Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Modest Proposal

As I stood at the edge of the flooded woodland path drawing the trees and reflections, a small muskrat swam up under my nose and started to hunt for food in the shallow, frigid water. I stood motionless for 45 minutes in the cold, enraptured, and tried to record the overall scene.
I've frequently thought patriotic service to one's country (any country will do) should include the study of Nature (with an emphasis on field study) and if possible, the patient investigation of small life forms in their familiar surroundings. This could include insects and their fantastically foreign life stages, mosses, liverworts, amphibians, and muskrats. This exercise would cure many humans of the tendency to value life in abstract and theoretical terms and, more importantly would allow us to get to know our fellow creatures in a more sympathetic way. Think of it as a form of community service.

After drawing the scene above, I noticed as I walked home that it seemed as if I had stolen a large chunk of time and I was a little disoriented. Trysts are like that I guess.
A sunny, cold and damp start to an early Spring day

Monday, March 14, 2011

Innocent Questions

Last Saturday, I sketched an early morning winter forest scene. It was colder than I'd dressed for and in an hour, I was retracing my steps for home. I stopped however, when I discovered a dead raccoon along the nearby road which the melting snow had revealed .

The Charles River in flood
03-13-11, blue china marker on paper
The river is very high now and has risen over its stone retaining walls below the dam. Waves gently flow over the grass. I'm used to seeing the water moving swiftly within the channel; with the high water, the waves are light and one hears hear a gentle lapping sound in addition to the roar of the steady torrent. It's just a small  distinction to be made.

This tiny observation, combined with the raccoon corpse seen the day before (a victim of a snowplow?) I'm reminded of the images coming out of Northern Japan. Indeed, the whole world it seems, offers up a fresh crop of innocent sacrifices from the latest source of violence and catastrophe. We would never wish such calamities on any living person, thing or beautiful place. Why must it be so? Why?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Does anything ever stand still?

We have it all: Snow, ice, standing water!
3/7/11 wax crayon in sketchbook
A few days of warm weather have unleashed the frozen snow. The river is very full as it rushes dangerously over the dam.
3/7/11 wax crayon in sketchbook

These were drawn yesterday during a short respite of warm, rainy weather. I know it seems crazy and surely, I'm asking for too much but I hope that Spring is slow this year. I want to document it :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Carrying water

…trying to render moving water
The moving river's surface is all chaos and dynamism yet there is also the reliable and soothing pattern of the waves. And what actually is the surface: a moving sea of watery dunes reflecting the world in odd angles, bangles and shredded shards? I keep looking for patterns to help me capture it. I often stop and realize that the river has been flowing here for millenia with no one to ponder its character. And I have formed a relationship with it. Does it look forward to my visits? My attention? My drunken mental meanderings?
À votre santé!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


A sunny corner, Woolwich, Maine (24 February, 2011)
An homage for whom? For our gracious hosts and for Carl and Karin Larsson that's who!

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