Monday, February 23, 2015

Reasons to love Winter

Winter seems to incite a lot of conversation, mostly complaining, but it's here and we have copious amounts of snow blanketing the ground. While arriving a bit early, the beast has taken residence for the duration. Like myself, many people who live in Northern Michigan experience a love/hate relationship with winter.  Each year, come September, a certain feeling of dread grasps my psyche, torturing it with thoughts of oncoming caliginous days and messy, bone-chilling weather. Melancholy sets in from recalling summers activities and there is a certain amount of regret for not having done enough of them outside. Plans to think positively about it tend to go awry sometime in January, after having shoveled truck loads of it, and scraped ice chunks from the windows of the car. Yet on select days, there is an indisputable grandeur to the white comforter that envelops this part of the earth.

For all the acquaintances in my social circle, there are a few who welcome the season or actually anticipate its arrival. If only a soul could harness some of that attitude. What makes them unique, however, is more than a positive attitude. It's a genuine fondness for snow and frolicking in it. Skiers and snowmobilers flock to Northern Michigan to take advantage of the white hills and wilderness trails. While having partaken in these activities in the past, it's a push to say that this inhabitant has more than a passing fondness for it. My reasons to love winter have to come from another source.

The other source is painting. Time spent in my studio in the winter months is cherished. The white quilt of snow with its low lit shadows and diamond-like sparkles on the sunlit banks, summon the painter. Many thousands of paintings are created within the confines of my cranium. One begins to see life in paint. Trees, barns and rolling hills morph into globs and smears of oil on canvas, most of which never get started in reality. But a few eventually make their way into the studio, and become palpable.

There's something ever so tranquil about gently falling snowflakes and fluffy dollops of white atop a small birdhouse. Snow clinging to tree branches and evergreens glisten in the sun, until it warms and retreats to the ground.  Some of the purest cobalt blue skies and periwinkle shadows can be found in a sunlit winters day.  Among other reasons to appreciate winter are rest and reflection, good books, fireplaces, hot chocolate, blizzards, warm soup, fuzzy slippers, and eventually, the spring thaw.
There is no season like spring, when the earth resurrects itself, refreshed with anticipation and beckoning of maple sap, morel mushrooms, wildflowers, strawberries, and beaches. We wouldn't comprehend its glory unless we withstood the scourge of winter.

So, roll on, ye rampant winds and heinous, horizontal snow. Your demise is imminent and we take pleasure in watching.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Tribute to the Trout

Fly fishing is an addictive sport. This is my fifth year fly fishing with my husband, who is a fishing guide and boat builder. Once you are hooked, so to speak, there's no going back. Fishing is not a new thing for me. But fly fishing is.

Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, my father commercial fished the Great Lakes. I saw a lot of whitefish on beds of ice, silver gleaming amidst a succinct muskiness. Crates of them would be loaded onto a truck headed off to fish markets. For fun, in the winter we did some ice fishing, peering through a small opening in the floor, where we might get a glimpse of a fish in the depths. The rest of the year we spent lake fishing in a small boat, drifting over weed beds, hoping to attract a walleye or perch with our live bait. Our sole purpose for being there was the hunt, the catch, and the spoils.

The first time seeing someone shadow cast a fly rod, I wanted to try it. Watching the eloquent motion of the airborne floating line, the desire welled up to be at the base of the rod. Here was something more than hurling a lure into the sea. It was hand-held poetry. It was mellifluous concentration. It was ballet infused undulation. But it was not easy. For quite awhile, trying to operate that rod, the hook seemed to gravitate toward the upper end of the trees. My line saw the inner workings of more foliage.

Time and practice were on my side. Eventually, persistence allowed me to plant that fly under a small tussock, or to drift it alongside a bevy of gnarly logs. Acquiring even minimal skill yields incredible satisfaction. Every minute was about being out there, ultimately, searching for life in the depths. But it was more than that. Many days were spent floating on the sparkling water, with only the sounds of a trickling tributary, a bird or a buzzing insect. Wading in the crisp flowing torrents, and feeling the pressure of it envelop my legs, I became one with the landscape, and a houseguest to its residents.

Becoming aware of the delicate surroundings, and the privilege of visiting there, you gain tremendous respect for the ecosystem and its inhabitants. Especially the trout. Watching a trout suspended in the flow of the stream is blissful, eloquently idling there as if invisible. Once you feel the tug on your line, and the battle is on, it's minutes of adrenalin infused exhilaration. The reward is bringing in the splendiferous creature on the end of the line, and then, watching him swim away.

The paintings came about as an idea from my husband, the fly tying, insect scrutinizing, feather collecting, trout-enthusiast, fishing guide. As a fan of my work, he's been pestering me to paint fish for a couple of years. This year, he put a challenge in front of me to create some art for the Fly Fishing Expo he was planning to attend with his drift boats. I pondered the idea for awhile, wondering how to fuse the notion of painting fish and still use my beloved vibrant colors. Once the painting began, the work came easily and naturally. Each one was done from photographs or videos taken by my husband on his fishing trips. I especially like the ones created from his underwater videos. A frozen moment in the video captured a visual for a painting, and when finished, that millisecond is preserved, and then the video pause is released. It's gone. Just like the trout.

These pieces have been a joy to create. I loved choosing colors for the trout, and each one reflects the feeling that I wanted attached to them. These pieces are currently on display in a special exhibition hosted by the Bay Harbor Lake Marina, Harbormaster, Bay Harbor Village, Bay Harbor, MI, or can be seen by contacting me for an appointment.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Appreciation of art

Many years ago, I gave a drawing to a friend as a gift, making sure to frame it nicely and with colors she would like. She hung the work for a few years until the colors went out of fashion, and then placed it in a closet, where it remained for the duration. Feeling astounded, I never worked up the nerve to ask her why. Apparently, it no longer matched the couch.

I took it personally, as most artists would, and spent time wondering if a different piece of art would have been a better gift. At some point, however, the conclusion was reached that not everyone has appreciation for art and what goes into the creative process. Many feel that a wall hanging is simply that.

The painting pictured above was sold sometime ago. I still like looking at it, and I hope whoever owns it does too. My mind often thinks about where they hang and who looks at them after they leave me. For each painting created, a process evolved, a very personal one. The time spent on it, whether lengthy or not, came directly out of my head. It really has little to do with my hands. Knowing this about my own art, makes me dearly love the art I own from other artists, whether paintings, pottery, jewelry, fabric or sculpture. Their hands touched it, and what remains is representation of heart and mind. To me, that is highly valued.

In our society, to many people, artist is not valued in this way. Education doesn't seem to matter anymore. Skill tends to be secondary. Artist is valued by popularity, marketing, trends and often gimmicks. The human race has always been prone to follow the leader, or keep up with the Joneses. Perhaps that's why we have so many artists now, and why the quality is questionable. I know that there are those out there who still get it, but they are becoming fewer.

Many an artist himself has fallen victim to the dollar rat race. It may be naive, but this artist chooses to believe that it isn't about the price tag. It isn't about the glory. It isn't about social climbing. People who think it is, are missing out. Art is about the individual, how the work was born, and what it speaks to you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"After the Storm" was in my head on an afternoon soaked with heavy rains and cloudy skies. It was trying to clear, but at that moment, all the foliage was rich with intense color. It was as if each leaf and sprig was limp and downtrodden, not unlike a day in the life of the artist. Hours later, vitality resounds with flowers that pick up their heads, and leaves that quiver gently in the wind, trying to shake off the droplets.

As the sun makes its way out, the terrain is color saturated. Now.......I paint.

Monday, March 14, 2011

January Birches

Winter is winding down, and the snow is starting to melt. The sun returns to us and in it, the birches and the snow glisten. Soon winter solitude will be left behind by warm winds, flowers and beaches. For now, the final blankets of snow slowly diminish, and then disappear.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I dare say a walk in this forest would be beautiful, but thick. The colors are perceived from a warm summer day, which during cold winter months, is something I dream about. We are on the cusp of spring, and the birches are singing.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Michigan Jungle-Donation to DIA

This piece is being donated to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Fundraising involving fine art has become a popular way to gain and maintain the interest of qualified contributors. However, it wouldn't be possible without the generosity of artists. I find that the artists I know, are generous with their work. Feeling good about giving it away is a reward to those who put so much of themselves into the work. Art was meant to be shared, discussed and enjoyed on some level.

I do hope that the fundraiser for DIA is a highly successful one, and I'm glad I could be a part of it.