Friday, May 4, 2012

From NaPoWriMo '12


There is a place where
The creek bends
And the forest folds back
From the bank,
Where rocks form a bridge
Careful steps can follow
And in the middle, sandwiched
'Tween eddies and  minnows
You can hear the whistle of water on stone
Join with the shush of wind and leaves
And birdsong,
Melding into a single tone--

It is the song I have carried so far
Too far
From home.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Dogswood

I'm in the (slow) process of making an "official" website for myself with SmugMug. I decided to put the coding on hold for the moment in order to get some content up on the site to work with, which means I've been going through a lot of photos, particularly the batch from up north taken last fall. There are a ton of forgotten treasures in the batch, so I may start posting a few here to whet your appetite, as it were, for the launch of my site!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ideas Reborn: Mythic Strides

Last winter I went through a major "itch" to be more serious about my painting. Since college I really haven't done any, mostly because it's hard to find the right kind of space here at home to allow for 1) undisturbed open storage and 2) ventilation for paint and turp fumes (as I prefer to work with oil). I started a large pastel piece last fall but beyond my initial sketch my ideas aren't meshing well and I've been too stuck on it to proceed. On that front I probably just need to grit my teeth and dive in, but that's perhaps a discussion for another day.

I found my shoe box of horseshoes and started thinking about them. Because of their size, they are fairly easy to work on in a limited space setting. I wouldn't need an easel or much else besides room for my paintbrushes, paint tubes, a small palette, and the shoe itself.

I also wanted to continue my previous artistic trend of working with mythology. I love mythology--anything other than Greek mythology, to be more specific, only because I feel it's a tad over done and I never much identified with the culture to begin with. Norse mythology is my absolute favorite, as is anything to do with Norse (and Scandinavian more generally) folk lore. When I was young Norse myths were my usual bedtime stories.

Some way or another the idea struck me. Horseshoes are very important artifacts in many cultures' folk lore--they bring in good luck, protect homes and doorways, prevent the mal-influence of faeries or gremlins (or creatures of a hundred different names). As a horse-owner I'm always fascinated by the worn shoes of my horse. I like the character of them, the story they tell of the horse who wore them, the worn toes from pawing concrete aisles, the dents and twists from throwing shoes off in the pasture or during a ride, the natural grinding of the nail grooves of the metal...I always found there was an energy to them. No wonder the cultural mythologies of so many groups of people assigned spiritual significance and power to them. It occurred to me that I could combine those ideas--mythology and the folk lore of horseshoes.

And so my series, "Mythic Strides," was born.

I immediately churned out two sketches. I decided that I wanted to represent Norse deities or specific moments of Norse myths (and eventually other mythologies as well) through abstract representation. Given the small workable surface area of a real horseshoe, abstract designs would be key. Nothing too fancy. Nothing too detailed or scenic.

My first sketch was for a shoe devoted to Thor, called "Thor's Stride". Keeping to the simplistic, abstract and representational depiction, I chose to use a knot version of Mjolnir (Thor's mightly hammer) at the center of the shoe's toe. At the left heel of the shoe I decided to place the rune ├żurs, on the right would most likely be the rune algiz/eohls. The background would be a the marble of thunderclouds--plums and navies and grays, stricken with lightning bolts.

Thor himself was not only a fierce warrior in Norse mythology, associated with strength, lightning, thunder, and storms in general, but was also widely accepted as the protector of mankind. It felt only right that I paint a horseshoe for him.

My second sketch, titled "Stride Between Moon and Sun" features the chase of Sol and Mani by the wolves Skoll and Hati. It is by far my favorite idea for the series so far. As well as a shoe that will likely prove to be most complex to paint the way I intend. I hope to do a progression of sky for the background, though that will largely depend on how I depict the moon and sun through paint. At the center of the toe lies the rune dagaz/daeg, the rune of day as well as personal breakthrough and transformation.

As of yet, I haven't painted either shoe, but I am well on my way. I decided that I wanted to paint a "practice shoe" with acrylic first, just to see if I would find it more suitable for painting on the shoes. Especially because some of the designs in my moleskine are particularly suited to the strengths of acrylic.

I also fully intend to make shoes of this series available for sale, though I might make "Stride Between Moon and Sun" for myself. I really want to explore the connection of personal and cultural mythology and merge it with the folkloric significantly of horse shoes as spiritual objects. After a few I might even target horses in various mythologies first for horseshoe-paintings. We'll see. There are plenty of possibilities with this series, and I'm more than excited to dive into them.

Coming soon...Muse's Web: Practice Shoes & New Directions

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Horseshoes and Dreamcatchers: The Beginning

I've been wanting to post about this stuff for a while, but things have been crazy busy lately and I just haven't gotten around to it! So, rather than put everything in one post, I thought I'd "do it properly" and post about the projects from the beginning.

Back in my college Intermediate Painting class (I don't even want to think about how long ago that was!) our Prof gave us the assignment to chose alternative surfaces to work on. His only stipulations were that it had to be something other than canvas or regular paper. A lot of people worked on wood, one or two on newspaper or metal. One inspired chief painted on a wooden cutting board. I can't quite remember all of them, but I remember floundering for several days trying to think of something. Luckily he'd given us the assignment well ahead of time, so we could think about it and search for materials over a holiday weekend or something of the sort.

The idea came to me at home. I've always liked to collect Toler's old shoes when he gets new ones put on, and I have various old shoes from many of the other horses I've ridden over the years. I just thought it would be fun to do something with them someday--get them welded together or made into hooks or photo frames. Painting on them just never entered my mind. Until that weekend.

My project emerged pretty quickly. I decided to do a series, intending it to be a larger 6-10 shoe series, though I only painted two for the class assignment, exploring the imprint of place on horse and rider. I titled it, "Strides of Truth and Dream."

The first shoe, called "Lace Strides" painted with oil. This shoe depicts the memory of our favorite field, always carpeted by lush grass, clover, and thousands of Queen Anne's Lace. Rides through it were always more than just gallops; the field and its nature became part of us. Part of our bond, our memories, our dreams, our experiences, our realities.

The second shoe of the series, called "Ocean Strides" prepped with acrylic granules, painted with oil with varnish finish for the water. This shoe depicts a dream of galloping against the waves, in and out of surf. Hoof-print left on the shore, this is the conceptual remainder of that ride that not even the waves can mask.

After college I had seriously intended to continue with the series. But there was a practical limitation--the surface space of each shoe was just too small to depict the types of scenes I imagined. So, painting shoes fell by the wayside for a while.

Coming up... Ideas Reborn: Mythic Strides

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


The clouds make me think of mountains.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Run as the Rains Come

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Distance I Have Wandered

Another (barely) faux-HDR I did, mostly because I really wanted to preserve the radiance around the creek as well as the red lens flare on the lower left border.