Monday, June 12, 2006

Garden Update: Why I Moved to Oregon

In 1971 I made my first trip to Oregon in October. It poured rain for a solid week and was cold and gray the entire time. It was a sharp contrast to my home in Arizona. I returned to my life there (working full time at Motorola assembling widgets for the space program) and didn't think much about Oregon until June when I returned for another vacation. This time the weather was sunny and the garden of my friend was like Eden. We sat under her apple tree doing crafts on a picnic table and in the evenings we gathered herbs and greens from her garden for our evening meal. My friend was a maker of wine and a canner of fruit and a baker of bread - we were hippies! And oh my God if I didn't fly back to Arizona and put my house on the market and quit my job that I had held for nearly 8 years and move directly to Oregon. This is why. Raspberries.

And strawberries. (They are a weed that comes up everywhere that I am growing roses and under the peach tree and the fig tree. Hard to believe, I know but the birds eat them and scatter the seeds and they are very prolific.) We don't spray so we get volunteers. It is nature's reward to those who live in harmony with the earth. I picked these on Sunday afternoon, sliced and sugared them and by Sunday evening we had shortcake.

Our friend gave us a pot with a cutting of pinot noir grape. The magic gardener man put the pot in the shade of a rhododendron bush where it took root and grew up through the branches. This is our second year to have pinot grapes. I've made wine out of our other grapes but not these yet. Oregon is famous for her pinot wine.

Next come the onion blossoms. Aren't they beautiful? And so good in a spring salad.

The raspberries started ripening this week. These are growing through a soil sifter that John left leaning against the trellis.

Graham Thomas rose from the famous David Austin. Given to me by friends as a thank you gift for paintings I donated to the Doernbecker auction a few years ago. It is enormous and lusty.

Walking onions. They fall over when the heads are mature and the little babies tumble out on the ground where they take root. These two seem to be kissing.

Foxglove always seems like an ancient and dangerous flower. It came to us courtesy of the same birds that plant the strawberries. Must not be poisonous to them.

Another David Austin from the same source. This one is "Heritage" - extremely fragrant and has that twirling-quadrant form that I first saw in Paris in the garden of the Chartes Cathedral. I just love this one. The color and texture reminds me of a baby's skin.

My trusty man Hermanito taking a break out on the deck. He is old and sometimes grumpy with arthritis but most of the time a darling who asks for nothing more than constant attention. What a sweetheart.

That's the end of the Garden tour. I'll try not to do this too often but how can I resist when it is all so awesome and changes so fast? As I sit here I wish I had included my moss rose and the beans Kay and I planted the last time she was here. She soaked too many for herself so she brought a bunch of them to me and I poked them in and now I have bush beans coming up in my flower bed. My little green babies.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Collaborative Book; 2nd Entry

Had a great time Saturday afternoon working on the mermaid pages in Bee's book. I think working this way (participating in collaborative books) makes me think harder than anything else I do. Because I am not very experienced as a collage artist so I don't have a lot of past knowledge to draw on. What I do have, however is a large body of work and a feverish passion to create so I ran to the collage drawer where I have tucked away stamps, prints of my work, fancy papers and just plain trash and I let the materials guide me.

This is the first page. don't know if you can see the 2 pearls in the vinyl container but they are there tucked in with a piece of a map from the south Pacific. The little pearls represent mermaid seeds - Bee and myself as little glimmers in the eye of creation before we emerged from the deep fathoms of the sea. I attached the clear envelope with a green eyelet, strung a tag with fish on either side and started stamping away. The mermaid is an acrylic transfer from one of my paintings and the tape is aluminum plumber's tape. The postage stamp with the man's head is from Indonesia and was given to me in a trade at Artfest. My best ephemera came to me from total strangers at Artfest; given freely and generously. It is a place of many miracles and has had a profound effect on me and on the way I think about my art. I have learned not to take myself so seriously and that the goal is to have fun, not to be a genius. Once you get that you are really free.

On the next page I made two mermaids in Photoshop as opposing twins and added some writing from India that was left over from the painting with the Indian miniatures. For awhile I wanted all my writing in the book to be illegible so I did it upside down and backwards. Of course you can read it with a mirror. When I was a child I kept several diaries in this handwriting believing that my mother would never go to the effort of reading it. Ha! I was wrong about that.

The homesick mermaid is a page I did for a fatbook that was returned to me as an extra. That page was created from an actual wooden mermaid in my collection that I photographed against part of one of my paintings containing water. She is dreaming of her little grass shack on a desert isle; my secret place.

Most of the artists I know have a homesick quality to them. We squirm in our skins and our brains run too fast. We are not quite like the other fish and we know it. We feel most at home with the other free thinkers. Our imaginations are always supplying us with new material and we know how to make stories and objects and use metaphors and how to make our dreams materialize. All our lives we are apprentices; learning the secrets and formulas we need to do what we do even better. For the most part we keep our methods to ourselves; not because they are a secret but because we know that the fun is discovering things on our own and adding to our little bag of tricks all the time. We don't need fame or fortune. What we have is better than any of that.

This is the 3rd page with a transfer, a piece of tarleton that was left over from printmaking, and a vellum envelope with copies of atc's cut up and tucked inside. I collaged bits of my paintings around 2 sides and scribbled with the end of a paint brush into wet bronze paint for the center part.

I believe that every able bodied person has the ability to make art. It is not a specialty or a talent. It is something that is available to almost everyone and it will fill the hours with fascination and transcendence. There is something magic in it.