Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Maine Event, 2016 version

There's been some serious neglect going on here at Brush and Baren and apologies are definitely in order. The pace of the last few weeks has allowed for the occasional Instagram or Facebook post (mostly because one auto-posts to the other), but a format requiring thought and articulation? Not so much.

I'm in the east! The eastern US, anyway. I've been on the coast of Maine for just over two weeks, running amok with back-to-back sessions at Hog Island Audubon Camp.

Warming up in my own journal on an overcast arrival day.

First up was Arts & Birding, a week of sketching and painting skill-building, bird anatomy drawing, and trying to put it all together in the field. Another group was also learning and practicing photography skills, and each evening before dinner we came together for an informal salon. It was great fun to see and share in everyone's work.

Evening salon in the Fish House

Arriving with our Arts & Birding campers was our third Bingham Cottages Artist-in-Residence, writer Alex Dunn. Alex spent two weeks off the grid out at the cottages, coming back to camp in the evenings to share our evening meal and even to conduct some interviews as part of his book project. (And okay, to have a shower and use the wifi, too.)

Unfortunately I was so busy during Arts & Birding that I didn't have time to take many photos... a situation that improved only slightly during the following week's Educators camp.

Field sketching in the island's hummingbird garden.
Makers on the beach at Sand Cove, Hog Island Audubon Camp

One night during Ed Week we explored night activities... astronomy, insects, games... and bioluminescence! There are luminescent critters in Muscongus Bay, and it's SO fun to lie on your stomach on the dock, gently swirl the water with your hand, and watch the sparkles! I wish I could get a photo of it to share with you... but I'm afraid you'll have to settle for the full moon over Crow Island.

Full moon rises over nearby Crow Island.

While camp sessions are now over for me this season, my time on the east coast is not! This week I'll travel down to Massachusetts for a few days to teach a workshop and present a lecture at a reception for my work at the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon. Then it's back to Maine for Hog Island Audubon Camp's 80th Anniversary celebration and to welcome the island's next Artist-in-Residence, Sean Murtha. Whew! Another wild summer vanishes like a guillemot carrying a red rock eel.  (You don't think that's too esoteric a reference, do you?)

Of course it's friends and colleagues who make the time here extra-special, and despite our chock-a-block schedules we always try to sneak in a moment or two to just be together. Sometimes the moment for stopping all work and just hanging out is completely obvious. Like this one:

Or this one.

And of course, this one.

Because what's a trip to Maine without sunsets and puffins and friends? Find your moment, wherever you are!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fieldwork...ummm... Fourth?

So here I am, less than 48 hours from departure for several teaching gigs on the east coast. The to-do list is FINALLY in the single digits (although it keeps wavering up a few tasks and then coming back down again), and my house is a riot of indecisive packing. I have only two small "carry-on"-sized suitcases and six weeks of gear to take for multiple events. Last week I shipped two small boxes of workshop materials... and it looks like tomorrow I'll have to ship one more. Ooph.

Yesterday, however, I was feeling secure enough about my available time (prematurely, it turns out) to take a little hike up a favorite local trail, Greens Creek. It's lovely and lush in there right now, and we got out early enough that my friend and I were headed back down the trail before we encountered the steady stream of weekend adventurers.

The hike inspired some field sketches of blooming flora.... hooray! It's been too long.

I intended to create the aforementioned sketches in my journal before I realized I didn't have a current one! I did the little watercolors on loose sheets and then spent all last evening making a new journal for them. Because I have time for that sort of thing right now.

New pages, new journal. Embiggenable with a click.

The good news is that by taking time to do some fieldwork and build a new journal I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. The less-good news is that it might mean I don't get another color on the lino before I leave. But going back to the good news: I'm close enough to departure that I've almost reached that "no-more-time-let-it-all-go" stage. Almost.

I didn't just build a new book, I built a PRETTY new book.

The leather needs to relax a bit, but since it's about to get crushed in a suitcase I'm not worried.

Is it any wonder I got inspired?

Greens Creek, or Green Creek, or Green's Creek, depending on which map you consult.

In the high desert, lush riparian areas like this are just YUMMY.
It rained the night before, so everything looked extra-rich.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Linocut in Progress: Purple, purple!

Things are at a fever pitch around here, as my departure for parts east is less than a week away and a few unanticipated minor crises have arisen.

I have, reluctantly, had to cancel a few commitments– but I think it was a good decision, since my body immediately responded to the drop in stress with uncontrollable sleepiness. I spent two days this week barely able to stay upright for three or four hours at a time. Can you say "exhausted"?

But Thursday I managed to stay awake long enough to get in to the studio and put a couple more layers on the snow scene linocut.

Step 5: Purple! I know it looks like blue, but it's really transparent purple over the existing blue layers. There are some subtle shapes starting to appear in the big expanse of shadow on the right– more a change of hue than of value.

Step 6: More purple! This time I added the tiniest bit of black to the pale lavender transparent ink, again trying to change hue but also to create a slight value change. You can see here how transparent the color is... it barely tints the lino block:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this image takes its inspiration from a photo in which the shadow shapes are just one flat blue. I'm trying to create more visual interest and a greater feeling of distance, but I'm making it up as I go along. (A technique known as the "Sherrie-flying-by-the-seat-of-her-pants-don't-try-this-at-home" method.)

I'm pleased that it's starting to suggest some dimensional depth at this stage, although I'm still concerned about that big shape on the right. The temptation to put another value change at the base of the "hill" is high, but I wonder if it won't be too much. Only one way to know for certain, and that's to try it! Stay tuned.

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut ! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadline...