Tag Archives: color

Gone

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It has been a beautiful autumn here on Beaver Island. One for the record books, I think, with warm temperatures lasting well into November. Even the frost held off longer than usual, and several people remarked that they remembered “a foot of snow on the ground” by this time in other years.

The colors were outstanding. Maybe not as many reds as I’ve seen in other years, but the yellows, oh my! For one essay on a walk through the woods, I turned to Google, requesting “synonyms for yellow” as my vocabulary fell short of the brilliant colors around me. Every day, I’d think, “this must be peak color…” only to be proven wrong by the next day, and the next. I’d tell myself, “surely I have enough photographs of the colors this fall…” and then I’d chide myself for not having my camera when faced with yet another glorious landscape.

The greens turned to orange, and the yellows turned bronze as the weeks went by. The blends of colors changed, but only for the better, it seemed. As the fall winds shook leaves to the ground, it seemed to simply clarify and enhance the color that was left. A heavy rain turned the tree trunks dark, which proved a brilliant foil to the glistening leaves. Fall continued that way, longer than any of us expected, and probably longer than we deserved.

No more. A week of high winds caused our ferry boat to abort one trip, and cancel a couple others. It made us contemplative about “the winds of November” on the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It took down trees and power lines. And it stripped the trees of their bright colors.

I’ve saved what I could of the color, in autumn leaves pressed in the pages of books, and in one thousand photographs. The view, though, has moved into a drearier realm. I offer a sigh, for another season gone and a bleaker landscape ahead.

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Lucky, Indeed!

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I walked, with my dogs, on the path known as Cotter’s Trail that leads through the part of the woods referred to as the Black Hills, to the little cabin that sits in the area that’s called Mamie Salty’s Clearing. Beaver Island has quite a few women memorialized in place names: Middie Perron’s Trail; Mrs. Redding’s Trail; Angeline’s Bluff; Mamie Salty’s Clearing. That, alone, is uplifting.

The sun was warm; the air was fresh. Other than birds overhead and an errant squirrel or two, we had the area all to ourselves. I had a pocketful of treats to keep Rosa Parks interested in the walk; it turned out, she didn’t need any special coaxing. Darla, who is usually off following smells by herself, hung back to include the little dog in her adventures. Their tails never stopped wagging.

I walked on a carpet of rustling leaves in shades of copper and gold. On every side, the trees boasted shades of yellow, bronze and green. It was evening, so the sun was making its way down into the western sky, changing the colors as it moved. Amber and lemon lightened to shades of cream and flax as the sun shined through the papery leaves. In shadow, the tones leaned toward ochre and deepest gold. Velvet greens of juniper and pine provided the perfect backdrop.

To have this luxury just steps from my kitchen door, I know I am fortunate. Though I already have about a thousand images of this beautiful fall, I couldn’t resist taking more pictures. Every day seems more beautiful than the day before. Every view more stunning than the last. There is a dog in almost every single landscape. Oh, yes, I am lucky!

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October 1st

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I worked on the schedule for the hardware store yesterday and – other than a few tweaks – it’s done for another month. At home, I have a new chart in my journal for the month of October, to help me monitor work hours and habits that I want to keep track of. I feel like I’ve turned a corner here in my organizational life-quest; I don’t want to lose momentum. Now, when work days are a little easier, is the time to solidify patterns at home for editing, writing, exercise and cleaning time.

I stopped in to see Aunt Katie last night after work. She was watching the news on her little TV set in the kitchen. The local news was reporting on “Leaf Peepers.” That’s a term I hadn’t heard before, but that evidently refers to the tourists that come north for fall color.

This year, the colors are just beginning to show here on Beaver Island. My maple trees, which will soon be glorious in shades of rust and gold, are barely tinged with color. The blackberry bushes are rosy colored now, and giving up their last few fruits. The Autumn Joy Sedum is brilliant red, and covered with bees on every sunny day. I haven’t had frost yet, but we’ve had a few cool nights. Today, it’s raining.

A new month; a fresh start. That’s how it is here in my little house on the Fox Lake Road on this first day of October.

Timeout for Art: Worthwhile

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When I was a young adult and a new student in the art department at Mott Community College, one of my instructors took his class for a walk down the halls, to talk about the artwork hanging there. As he paused in front of a large abstract drawing, one of my classmates snickered. That elicited a scowl and a sharp comment from the instructor…which caused me to frame my comment differently.

“What makes this piece work?” I asked.

“Now that is a good question,” he said. “It does work, though, doesn’t it?”

As soon as he said it, I knew that, in fact, it did. Though I had wondered about it hanging in the hall, framed as if it were “real art,” and had likened it to the scribbles of a small child, I had been drawn to it. I didn’t know why. I listened, then, to learn…and it changed my thinking forever.

The instructor explained how the big, deep red mass in the upper left was balanced by the rich, intense black on the bottom right of the picture plane. Other areas of interest gave a lighter, playful feel. He noted how the meandering – kind of scribbled – line actually led the eye around, from one area of interest to another, without letting it leave the page. These are tactics employed by all artists, whether they work from life, or in the abstract. “In fact,” he said, “If you were able to study the Sistine Chapel, you could see that Michelangelo used almost this same exact pattern”- he waved to the piece on the wall – “when he painted God reaching out to touch Adam.”

From that day on, I looked at non-representational art differently. I don’t like all of it, any more than I like every landscape or every portrait. I know, though, that there is something to it. It’s not simply the realm of people who can’t  make “real art.”

The abstract artist chooses to convey a message, to elicit an emotional response or to display a mastery of the medium – and sometimes all of these things at once – without the shorthand provided by a picture. In many ways, the task is harder.

It was many years after that first introduction to it, before I chose to work primarily with color, pattern and texture rather than depicting recognizable images. It wasn’t an easy decision. I still appreciate the magic of creating a realistic two dimensional scene. I know that kind of art is easier to understand and appreciate. I enjoy drawing!

Whenever I hear a negative comment, or sense a disdain for my work, I feel the need to haul out my good drawings, to prove I had a choice. It’s silly, I know.

This time, I brought out an unfinished drawing. I probably have more than twenty hours already into this large piece, and it will take at least that many more to finish it. It has been waiting for quite a while, for me to find the time.

Meanwhile, I’ve done a great deal of what I love: playing with textures and juxtapositions of color; working with papers and found objects as collage; conveying moods and feeling through the thoughtful use of these elements. Most of the time, it has been great, exhilarating fun!

That, in the end, is the best reason for making art.