Thursday, March 25, 2010

Transition to Spring

First Day Out (16 X 20"). Perez Collection.

Rock Creek in March (24 X30")

Spring Sprang (9 X 12")

Sprung (11 X 14")

These pieces are presented in order and represent my first plein-air efforts of the year. First Day Out was painted on March 17 at my beloved bench in Montrose Park, behind Dumbarton Oaks. There were just a few snowdrops and crocuses on the ground, and I admired the arc of this solemn sentinel among the day's long shadows. The Rock Creek piece was painted the next day, just downstream from the police headquarters on Beech Drive. The creek had been quite high that week, and the woods were showing the impact of the winter's storms. I'm pleased by the energized and sculptural qualities of this piece. The beech tree is clearly relishing the end of winter. The other two were painted yesterday (3/24) in Montrose Park. A very graceful cherry towers above my bench there. I painted it first from above and then from below.

Adirondack Interlude in Early March

Giant at Sunset (24 X 30")

Last Light on Giant (11 X 14"), Merrill Collection.

Pilgrimage to Indian Head (16 X 20"), Sold.

Maribel and I went up to New York City in early March for a dance performance by my cousin Simon Thomas-Train and his BigAPE company. Mari had to report back to DC for work, but I decided I couldn't resist the chance to visit Aunt Betsey and Uncle David and enjoy spring snow in Keene Valley. I skiid into and across the Lower Ausable Lake on Monday, March 8. I didn't see a soul until I was nearly out and encountered Chuck from the Mountaineer. I made it back to town in time for Jimmy Goodwin's 100th birthday party. All the usual suspects were there, and I got to see a painting I'd never seen before by Harold Weston of the legendary Doc Goff which hangs on the second floor of the Neighborhood House. Afterward, I went back up to the Ausable Club golf course to watch the sunset on Giant and take photos. These three paintings reflect the pilgrimage nature of the trip north. The night before my ski into the Lower Lake, I'd had a dream about the importance of maintaining an adventurous spirit in this life, and Indian Head figured prominently in the dream. Over the course of my day in the backcountry, the dream's meaning chrystalized for me. On Tuesday I rode the lifts and carved telemark turns at Whiteface.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lakeside Meditations, I & II

Lakeside Meditation I (18 X 24"), sold

Lakeside Meditation II (30 X 40"), Squatmas Collection.

Maribel and I lived and studied at the Sivananda Ashram at Neyyar Dam in Kerala, India for four weeks in 2007, completing the Sivananda yoga teacher training course. The ashram is on the northwestern edge of the very large lake created by Neyyar Dam. On some mornings, the swamis would lead our class on a walk to this open area on the shoreline where we could watch the sunrise. As local families conducted their morning routines on the lake, we would do sitting meditation, satsang, and then walk back to the ashram for tea before our morning session of hatha yoga. Our afternoon yoga session was always very rigorous and was conducted on a shaded platform on the far side of this branch of the lake, over on the left side of this painting. Many of us would swim from there every afternoon before dinner. That was my favorite part of every day, swimming and floating in this healthy, beloved, and tranquil body of bliss. The lake is surrounded by a wildlife sanctuary, complete with uproarious lions, picturesque villages, and the backdrop of a granite mountain range called the Ghats ("steps"). Fish and crocodiles swim about freely, villagers bathe and do their laundry, and the ashram's yogis swim, sing, and meditate. Maribel and I consider this lakeside the most blissful place we've ever had the pleasure of spending time.

Snowy Path Revisited

Snowy Path II (16 X 20")

This is a larger version of a painting I did in December of a snow-covered path along the west side of Rock Creek. The first painting was small and executed quickly. It sold almost immediately, before I had a chance to decide if it was really finished. I made a larger version of it in the hope that I could push the inviting, enveloping backlit effect more. I love the way this piece draws my eye into a dance with depthless blues, flaming golds, and smoldering auburn wood tones. Exploring this piece is a cleansing, awakening experience. When I have my doubts about oil painting and its value to humanity or the earth, I can look to this piece as one that affirms the connection between mind and nature, between the creative light within and the glorious lights of creation.