05 July 2014

Silk Worms and other things

Today I found myself again in the countryside north of Calgary, spending the afternoon at a friend's cabin.  Brought my painting gear along, surprise surprise.  *laughs*   

First off, though, I became entranced by a multitude of ants who appeared to be moving house.  Travelling along their route, they were carrying eggs of all sizes - and some were carrying other ants, something I have never observed before.  Newly hatched perhaps?  They were small and curled up and seemingly inert as they were being carried along.  They put me in mind of de-activated robots.

After spending half an hour or so observing the ants, I figured I may as well get some painting in, as I had my kit with me and all.

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the long view

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the specific view

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the underpainting

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Somehow I was not quite into painting a landscape in my usual way, today.  Maybe watching those ants had something to do with it... why try to depict only the surface of the thing when there is so much going on underneath? kinda thoughts.  So this painting was done in about 20 minutes, trying to catch some essence without fussing over surface details.

My palette, which I forgot to photograph, was very limited: 
cadmuim green light (hue)
cadmuim red middle (hue)
olive green
naples yellow
titanium white

And here's a glimpse into the studio of late:

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Silk Worms
18x18 inches each

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painted "frames"
 So here I am playing with edges, how to treat.  Working title: "Silk Worms".  This refers to the line quality and the organic but measured way those lines build up.  It also refers to some idea of things I have been reading in John Donne's "sermons" where he writes about the human desire to transcend earthly existance - everyone's body is eaten by worms in the end, and after death one cannot transform those lowly earthworms into silkworms.

I have really been thinking about what, exactly, I hope to accomplish with this life of art-making.  Not so much in a worldly sense but in a (personal? spiritual?) sense... no concrete answers yet, only questions.

And below, a new series underway.  Playing with the idea of an echo or shadow; this photo shows the very initial stages of that idea:

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new series

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Acrylic inks, which have not been used in a long time and which, I am certain, are very happy to have a purpose once again.

Until next time,


Barbara Muir said...

Love all that you're doing. Funny I was talking to my husband today about how the people who want to drag you down are worms, but I'm a Robin, and I want to fly up to the trees. Metaphors eh? Your work makes me feel happy. Good old ants moving house. And artists searching for meaning. I meant that I want to rise above.


Russell Mang said...

Hi...just taking another few moments to look again at "Silk Worms". I quite like the degree of complexity of the stitch lines & colours of the inner square areas...i also noticed this time the lines, pin holes & pins on the wall behind the ptgs. Have you thought of incorporating similar 'artifacts' the next time you have a show? They make for interesting interaction w/the ptgs...Also, what works of Donne are you referring to? I've read some of his poems & have always meant to give his work 'another go', so to speak.

Verna Vogel said...

Thank you both for your comments.

Yes, Barbara, rising above can be quite tricky can't it? ... but Robins are good fliers! :)

Russell: thank you for noticing and remarking on the studio wall behind the works. Yup, I love that wall. I like your idea of incorporating something like that into the exhibition of the works... yes, a very interesting idea!

It was in my husband's book - Seventeenth-Century Prose and Poetry, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982 edition - that I was reading some parts of Donne's work, selections of sermons on death.

"After a low birth thou mayst pass an honourable life, after a sentence of an ignominious death thou mayst have an honourable end; but in the grave canst thou make these worms silk-worms?"

And many other bits. And this interests me because I think to some extent the making of art is an attempt at immortality... and we may think we control how we are seen but in fact we have very little influence. Et cetera.