Thursday, June 28, 2007

Little Deer Creek, 1983

Little Deer Creek, 1983, watercolor on paper, 9x13 inches.
Reproduced with permission of The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

Cropped and enlarged.
After breakfast, when Michael went into town for supplies with Peter Rochia, I walked down behind the stone house Peter had taken that year he was in from Rome, walked down to the creek with my paint box, a straw hat and a fresh bag of spliff, and began painting in the hot Nevada City sun.

I started with the grid Peter convinced me was the trick to Renaissance compositions and meditated a moment on Botticelli’s figure of Mercury; he stands magically, all gravity denied, a torch in his hand, lighting the left hand side of ‘Primavera’, looking away from Venus and the Graces into the mysteries of the whatever art must truly lie beyond the frame, and I divided the paper with a 5H pencil, never my usual rule, figuring the golden mean would be revealed subconsciously beneath the manganese blue and cobalt violet in an honest account of the dense willows and aspens hiding the froggy rivulet with a screen of summer color.

It was the Fourth of July. I worked through the afternoon, Michael and Peter came back with food. We grilled chicken and Peter made a pasta sauce with tomatoes and lavender from the garden. This use of the herb was a novelty to Michael and me in those days. John Campbell and John Seaver stopped for dinner and we drank far too many bottles of the Chianti Peter had shipped over from Italy, watching the fireworks from Grass Valley shoot into the stars above the ridge.

I finished the painting at the drafting table at home in Noe Street, in the room that became the bedroom, without the hat or smoke, but with the rattling window left half open for any fog and breeze that might keep my memory fresh, and dry the sweat of the work of it. I painted on weekends then, it took 3 or 4.

Bob McDonald tagged the painting for an exhibit at the museum in Santa Cruz. He was the director there, intent on enlarging the permanent collection. The museum bought ‘Little Deer Creek’, hung it with a Warhol and a Jasper Johns, alongside work by Crawford Barton, Terry Allen and Joe DiGiorgio, and, to my surprise, it was selected by the viewing audience as the most popular of the show.

Greg Reeder took the photograph. Not quite close enough to show the extravagant focus of the neo-pointillism I loved and labored over in those days, but if you angle your screen just right you’ll get the color and feeling I was trying for, even some evidence of Peter's grid.

Marla Novo at the Santa Cruz Museum was kind to send the jpeg today.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weathery sunset, March 2007

Watercolor on paper, 7.5 x 22.25 inches, and details below.

Driving with Beth and Dario, Rinaldo at the wheel, GPS via Doris and tires sailing above the water on the road, speeding to dinner or back from lunch, chewing Altoids on our way to another painted cave or creaky chateau, raindrops splattering the glass, playing celebrity Botticelli with open rules, (…Elizabeth Taylor, Duke Ellington, Rodney Dangerfield, Segolene Royal…) laughing, singing whatever, with time stopped and held to the heart as closely as your never wilting yellow roses around every Girondin curve.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Fuschia Windchime