It seems only right to issue a disclaimer: this “journal” is public, but is mostly a record for myself, so I know where I started and where I got to (whether oriented or no). Don’t feel bad if it’s boring, and you have to quit reading. I’m talking to myself, a bit like those ladies on the bus that you’d rather not sit by; I’ll never know if you move to the back of the bus.
So yesterday, these were a couple of Red Barn scenes:
That was the first tarantula I’d ever seen. Handsome creatures, they are. This one was intent on getting inside the barn until I screeched the screen door and then it scuttled away. Richard Stephens tells me they migrate at this time of the year.
The empty space was just as expected. Still no water on the site except what Jer and I tote in — we even found the gallon plastic jugs with my notes (“Not for Drinking”) on them. What’s really important is all that lovely empty space.
I wish I had a video of today’s process. I arrived at the Barn when the sun was already making the desert look flat — but it was only 9 o’clock. I did my nest-making bit, finding the folding tables and setting out the vast quantities of materials that had traveled from Portland.¬† Then the real work started, getting the 7 panels cut, taped, and up on the wall.
I managed today to cut 4 panels, 4′ x 5′, (each having an additional 3 inches of canvas, blue tape all ’round, marking off the actual painting surface. The extra canvas will be stretched around stretcher bars.)¬† I must have all the panels, cut and in place, before I begin the Big Project.
As I measured and taped and pinned these panels to the wall and then sat back down to look at them, I was reminded of Dave Trowbridge’s comment on southeastmain:
“As for setting up still lifes, something I also struggle with, I did learn an interesting method from Joseph Mann. He instructed his students once to set up objects as though one was yourself, and the others were people in your life (family, friends, enemies‚Ä¶) and to consider your relationship to each as you place the objects together.
These panel photos looked expectant to me, as if they were posing. Family portraits.
Note the open door to the right. The day got so warm (actually the sun blazed as if I were in the desert!) that I closed the big doors for a while — the sun was too much. But this photo was taken about 3 PM, after a lovely breeze arose and the sun was far enough west that it didn’t heat up the space too much. Now the panels look like they expect something important from outside — the tarantula maybe?
Four panels was as many as I cut and measured today. When I looked out at the landscape from the Barn door, I had the beginning of real doubts about whether seven panels are sufficient. Or perhaps they are wrong in their verticality. The space is too wide, the foreground too boring, the sky too oblivious. Jer suggested I turn the panels horizontal, which seems too obvious, but sometimes the obvious is that way because it’s also correct. I thought of halving them, horizontally, and painting two paintings per panel, maybe going east to west on top and west to east on bottom. Just to make life interesting. I’m definitely starting with PM paintings on the east side and AM on the left, which should unorient a bit.
Of course, it was 4 PM when I got to thinking these wayward thoughts. It’s definitely not my time of day to think.
I noted today that the Amargosa Valley doesn’t conform to the basin and range geography very well, or at least it doesn’t conform to my (limited) notion of basin and range geography. I’m going to do some web searches tonight. The valley has the long north/south ranges with valleys (basins) between in the usual fashion. But, at the far end, there are ranges which stretch across the valley, going east to west, side to side. I know the Amargosa River slithers around the end of the Funeral Mountains and dries up in Death Valley rather than sinking into its own playa. Perhaps it is pushed there by east-west ranges in the southern part of Nevada. More research is needed. Some rest is needed. And tomorrow is another day.
Reported from Beatty, Nevada, home to Beatty Days (just finished), the Atomic Inn, the Beatty Merc, and the Goldwell Open Air Museum Resident House, where I’m on my laptop, across the table from Jer, who is on his laptop <snort>