Keeping At It

This morning on our walk at the dam. I love how the mist stays low and hugs the ground as the sky tries to pull it up.

And here is last night outside the dining room window.

The light is at a nice angle as we approach fall and things in the yard just get more interesting.

I wanted another large leaved plant for the bog garden below the kitchen window. Where I usually shop for plants in the Asheville area I was told this one would be interesting with its white marks. So I bought it. It is no where near the size of the purplish/green one from the past few years. It took its sweet time showing the “white” and hardly grew much larger than when I bought it. But I do like the watercolorish look of the color panels through the center.

Two days ago at least six fawns showed up with their mothers. Here are four of them outside the dining room window.  Another sign of fall is the changing color of the deer….back to a taupe tone.

This week I carved a small linoleum block. A magpie, gum nuts and leaves. I wanted to try color on them. First the watercolors made from Australian soils, then other watercolors and then gauche. It was very hard to get any even-ness to the color washes.

But then I decided to just go with fewer colors and like it better. It seems my way of working is pile it on, then take it off. Why can’t I just see the obvious in the first place?! I go through a lot of erasers.

I made nine usable prints on plain white printmaking paper. The non-usable became the test prints for adding color, but still ended up in the waste bin.

Then something I have been wanting to do….print the image on pages from a book. Here they are printed on pages from the Australian book, Songlines. The book is frankly a tedious read. Lots of conversation and not so much the description of landscape that one would expect from its reputation. But an interesting backdrop for the image….and an interesting title for the series.

I have two more linoleum blocks this size to use up. The next will be the head of an emu with a banksia pod and leaves. And the other a sulfur crested cockatoo with a pink gum blossom.  I will show you those when I get them designed and printed.

The ones without the Songlines background text I will turn into sets of cards to take down under in March. With the original prints and cards I should be able to pick up some spending money for my time there. I canceled my first teaching venue as it is on the east coast and few if any sign ups this early. I did it because I know the other classes are filled or likely to be and I really want to control more of my time and who I spend it with while in Australia this time. I am cutting down on any stress whatsoever and going for pure enjoyment.

It is tempting to just say “yes” when asked to teach a workshop. The pay is fun to spend in the country while finding interesting things to bring back to the studio to use or just buy gifts that can only come from there. I love buying from fellow artists/craftsmen and at the airport shops where just one more silly souvenir is irresistible.  And whatever I buy as a gift is so appreciated by those who will only know Australia from those wonderful travel images of outback and empty endless beaches.

On another subject altogether. A friend told me about a woman who is making books in black and white photography to jog memories and conversations with those having forms of dementia. In my vast amount of saved pictures I am collecting images that should be familiar to Lee. Adjusting them to black and white and resizing them for a picture book, I will make a book for Lee to have. Or more likely those visiting him can show to him and perhaps start a conversation or a smile to cross his face. We are no where near that now, but I know it is coming.

Some days it is like the tangling of these small trees on another walk we take closer to home so we can get back here before the cleaning lady shows up at eight am.

I like this image and how dense the growth is. I think Lee’s mind must get like this as he struggles to find the word and often gives up. I know him well enough to just fill in. But for others that haven’t spent over fifty years listening to what matters to him, it can be hard to understand what he is trying to say. The best of them will just fill in a blank or change the subject. Just saying, “A lovely bird went by the window”, or “How’s your sandwich?” is such an easy way to distract his anxiety.

Now he is out using his new battery operated weed eater and leaf blower. The ones that took gas and a hard pull to start have been removed from sight. The batteries only last an hour or so and then he has to quit and come in and rest….a good thing.

I think this will be the cover for the book I am making him. Inside will be pictures of house construction, his cats, deer, rabbits, trees, birds, gardens, food…..lots of things that are in there somewhere.

Til next time.