Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

9×12

Oil on Canvas board

img_0035

There weren’t many rocks to sit on let alone have room for an easel. So already I felt hampered. I found a spot after a awhile and managed to wedge my tripod into a shape resembling an octopus after a few shots of tequila. Pretty unstable. Patti set up below which was the best spot because she was a few minutes ahead of me. She also didn’t have to change out of her long underwear which involved heading out into the woods and trying to find a suitable spot where I could take off my boots, pants and sit down without being attacked by a rogue stick.

We didn’t have a lot of time as our ride out was leaving promptly at 4pm. We arrived hot and winded after climbing steps built by Lawrence Grassi shortly after noon and I was set up by one. It only took an hour for me to settle down to work.
The falls themselves were backlit by a very harsh sun and it was difficult to determine the values let alone get them down properly. I was also struggling with the mountain in the back and it took several attempts to get the right shape and proportion. After the big shapes were in place it was then down to adjusting values and colors.

I had most of what I needed by the time we had to start packing up. It was three when we started the hike back down which took a total of 45 minutes.

This is one painting which needed a fair amount of adjusting back in the studio. The mountain needed a lot of work and the values (as I suspected) were not correct. I was about 70% of the way there from the plein air but the entire lower section required a bit more developing. The waterfall itself I worked in stages by painting over what I had roughed in on site. Darks (wet rock) was laid in first and left to dry then I was able to start building over the top of this base with direct strokes and same dry brushing.

I was pleased with the outcome of this one as my original reference photograph was not the best. There was lens flair and I had to use a couple of different images to see all the areas I had included in the composition. There was a good deal of imagination and “artistic license”.

Happy painting all!

Random Act of Kindness…

So, today I went about my usual routine. I went to Cafe Beano for coffee. The wonderful part of my recent visits is, I have been adopted by a wonderful group of seniors. They have been a fixture at Beano for a very long time. Always laughing and having great debates about politics, religion and anything else that comes to mind. Moira and Tets just got back from Scotland where they visit for four months out of the year and were giving out presents to Peter and Damla when I arrived. They didn’t know that I had been joining Peter and Damla over the past couple of months and were pleasantly surprised when I sat down. Beano U is what Peter calls the morning discussions and this one was about Scottish independence.

Well, the next morning I sat down, coffee in hand and Moira reaches into her bag and hands me a gift. She has a wonderful way of wrapping them. As a former librarian, she came across a pile of maps that were going to be thrown out and now uses them for, well, wrapping paper. She takes twine, and apparently it has to be linen twine as all other twine is crap, and ties it around the gift neatly. It has a wonderful heart felt simplicity that is classic and not pretentious. You know that the gift is meant as a gesture of friendship. It’s pure class. I was a little taken aback as I didn’t expect this. I thanked her and within thirty seconds they were gone as it was 9am; the time they have to leave.

I sat with the gift for awhile and though about opening it right there but decided to wait till later that afternoon. I wanted to let this random act of kindness linger for as long as I could. It was amazing to me to have someone that I don’t know very well at all, take the time to pick one of the items they had brought back from overseas and wrap it with a simple intent.

To make my day a little brighter. She succeeded.

photo 5

photo 4

photo 2

photo 1

The Walking Dead…

I was watching The Walking Dead tonight and Michonne who plays a sword wielding Zombie killer, was having a dream about a normal life. Maybe from her past as a flashback or maybe not. She was in a beautiful white kitchen making dinner for a friend and her “lover” Mike . They discuss not staying in camp or going out “there” and Mike says, “Where is the happy ending here? “This isn’t life”. Then asks “whats the answer?”, and his friend replies back, “whats the damn question?!” Michonne tries to ignore the comments and her dream turns nasty when she looks up and sees the two men sitting with there arms hacked off like her “pets”. She screams…

I sat there with my ginger ale, thinking, heres a show about a bunch of people who used to have lives with families, friends, jobs, houses, chores, hobbies, and pets. A show about the loss of everything they thought important and the simple struggle to survive. There have been others who have written about this subject, Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” comes to mind. No zombies but the struggle for survival and the loss of familiarity.

And, without much effort, my inner voice said, “hmmm…Thats depression”. That same loss of the familiar coupled with little if any hope. And I thought about what Mike said “This isn’t life”. As in, the loss of what we all consider the normal experience of happiness through the way we interact with our surroundings, families and friends that we find comfortable and/or meaningful. I mean, imagine taking away everything that you work for everyday? The reason you get up in the morning and there are no other options, no other jobs, no cars, houses or resorts to visit in the winter. Once you remove the trappings of our modern world and the constant way we are taught to achieve this dream at all costs, what’s left? Do you suddenly have no reason to live? Of course not, but it really made me think about our purpose, and how the dissolution in the belief of that purpose can cause disparity. 

What is life? Well, I guess life is what we have since we have a beating heart. Living is a different thing; it’s what we do while our heart beats. When you distill it down, we human beings are all all the same. Our blood is red and our bones are white.  We live, we die.

So whether you live in a beautiful condo with a giant mortgage, an apartment on a small subsidy, or are running around in a post apocalyptic world trying to find a safe place to live, or are inside the walls of your troubled mind, it’s simply survival. 

What makes it bearable, and has the ability to bring us real happiness are the connections to each other that we make along the way. Our need for love and friendship. Everything else means… quite literally, nothing. 

So, where’s your happy ending?

Winters Desire…

Winters cold wind spreads across a field of summer fallow,

as snow falls gently,

softly tapping on shoulders that have bourn so much,

and whisper cold memories of warmer times.

Landing on tongues, as we giggled,

and caught the low January sun through a dappled forest light,

shimmering as it fell on its way

to the dance floor,

the flash of light and the beat of my heart to the rhythms of this one,

true desire.

And in the grey of my voice calling out to this wind,

and the frigid illusions of these now, tepid dreams,

I am unable to move.

And staring out to what, I’m not sure,

hidden by layers of lies, I can only imagine what awaits.

And with this knowing doubt, I am frozen in my own fear.

Feet always moving towards a simple end,

but a mind stationary, and unable to reconcile the truths of where I am…

And more simply,
why…

Grant Waddell

Runaway Train…

 

Sugar Maker

 

Moving slowly at first the subtle sway feels soothing as the clack clack of track under steel wheels, begins to form those familiar rhythms that seem so far back in my memory. As if being held by my mother in the maple wood rocking chair so long ago.

And out the window, things that are closest to me blur into shades of brown, light against dark. I focus on the horizon, seeing dreams in the distant haze, but always on the edge,

never closer.

Faster

The sway, dangerous and unnerving, brings panic. I look around and see others looking out their glowing laptop windows, heads down, at reruns of Honey Boo-Boo and Keeping up with the Kardashians, hyperlinking to dreams of cars, houses and shoes.

In a trance, on track, to a better life…

And I begin to realize what this really means…

And I want off