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Archives for July, 2008

Stone People

Stone People at Old Mission Peninsula, fully submerged in the Great Lake a decade or so ago, are now exposed,


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Dear June:

I have been placed under oath to endeavor a cleansing of my own Augean Stables. There’s a lot of stuff around that could cause my heirs a world of headaches if left for them to handle.

To that end I have been rooting things out of their various hiding holes and exposing them to the light of day, thereupon to pass judgment. One category of item is cast plaster of which this is a gathering.

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In Retrospect

I’m back from the road trip, muddling about until my body decides it’s home.

Muddling about includes mulling over ideas, thoughts, notions, and niggles that life has handed me. Here’s a set of thoughts that I’ve maundered through in the last few days.

People, making conversation with the plein air worker, often ask “How long have you been painting?” My stock answer is “Oh, about 5 years.”
But I was cleaning up some old piles of stuff today, and ran across a whole covey of watercolors and acrylics that were dated 1999. Now my math is bad, but not that bad. Somehow time, or memory, had gotten short-circuited. I remember the class now; it was “painting the figure in watercolor,” and I stumbled into it by mistake, much, I suspect, to the horror of the very nice instructor.

Rosie, Winter, 1999, watercolor, 15 x 22″

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Not the kitchen sink

An ideal blog post should be a nutritious snack like a granola bar: a little filling but not too heavy, containing a few sweet nuggets, and hopefully good for you. Well, you know how there’s usually a little spilled flour, a sticky spot of honey, and a few escaped raisins lying around after a cooking stint? And possibly a few items from earlier efforts? Welcome to my clean-up post.


One stray ingredient is one I deliberately left out of last week’s post on some modern Chinese abstract artists, for reasons of space and time. But Che Chuang’s painting of a head, shown above, struck a real chord with me. It reminded me strongly of two heads of my own that have appeared in these pages. The level of abstraction, original color, and even shape are not so very different.

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Channel Surfer Girl


Prince Down a Country Lane

Musings on photography recently talked about the idea of cliché. Below is a country lane that happens to be pregnant with possibility.


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Fifth Moon abstraction

fankuan-travellersamidstreamsandmountains.jpgMy ongoing look into Japanese and Chinese painting has turned up a few new/old ideas, and blown me away with some new discoveries. It’s becoming quite clear why I felt attracted to it; these are themes I’ve written on before in the context of my own photography (e.g. here and here).

The first idea is about the level of abstraction frequently present. Many of those mountains and rivers seem as much about shapes and textures as about landscape, more evocative than representational. Sometimes there’s an interesting mix of broad abstraction and realistic detail, as in the thousand-year-old Travelers amid Mountains and Streams by Fan Kuan, shown at left.

A second realization is that, like similar works at different times, this one by Fan Kuan smacks of the sublime. This is evident in the language used to describe it by historian Patricia Ebrey (Cambridge Illustrated History of China, or Wikipedia):

Jutting boulders, tough scrub trees, a mule train on the road, and a temple in the forest on the cliff are all vividly depicted. There is a suitable break between the foreground and the towering central peak behind, which is treated as if it were a backdrop, suspended and fitted into a slot behind the foreground. There are human figures in this scene, but it is easy to imagine them overpowered by the magnitude and mystery of their surroundings.

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