Playa Residency, September 18. 2013

Wed Sept 19

Got up at 6 this morning, after rolling around in bed for half an hour or so.  I woke up in a kind of panic over my large, and seemingly impossible, project. My brain kept swirling about the problems of painting on the cedar (which really needs a lot of experimentation and then quantities of sanding and prep before it will be ready for pigment). Furthermore, the difficulty of getting it up the hill, of getting my art materials up to it, of having enough art materials, including a clear gel medium laid down, and then waiting for that medium to to dry before I painted on it, trying to stow my stuff in the mouse-ridden airstream, and working long hard hours for 7 days in a row – well, it all seemed too hard.

Sometimes. if I work on a painting after a night of panic, it dissipates the tension and clears the way for reasonable decisions.

NorthPondSunrise2wlThis north pond is what I see best from my big playa-oriented windows and from my table in the kitchen. It requires being painted, if only as a memento. So, at 6:30 I was out on the deck, laying in the shapes of the mountain and pond on a big (30 x 40”) canvas.

After I laid in the shapes on the very dark canvas (what was I thinking when I prepared this canvas with black acrylic?), I started painting. Frost covered the gold and rust grasses on the side of the pond, and it seemed to be a very still (very early) morning. What I forgot is that frost generally signifies a certain amount of cold. Or perhaps a lot of cold. Even more cold on a shaded deck, around the corner from the warm sun, where there was a bit of breeze. Dealing with my self-inflicted dilemma of the panorama and my intense concentration on the painting made me forget to feel how cold my fingers were getting. Continue reading

Playa, September 17, 2013

Sept 17, Tuesday

I had an exciting morning. Went out with Rachel at 6:30 A.M. — this meant getting up at 5:30 because I’m a nervous nelly –  and I needed to heat up a cup of coffee so I could pretend to be human. We walked up to the bone yard, where Pepper looked for rats under piles of lumber, and Rachel and I checked out the boards for suitable painting ones.

BoneyardWhereWhiteDotWLThe “boneyard” is the little whitish dot to the left a bit lower than center. The dot (which I could see more clearly on a blown-up version of the photo) is actually the carefully stacked and tied boards rescued when Playa was built. Obviously this photo was taken from a ways away.

I wanted boards at least 12 inches wide, and indeed we found a number of cedar ones, very rough but the right width and depth (the 3rd dimension — 1/4, 1/2, .75 inches didn’t matter).  Rachel said she could sand them a bit and cut them into a good length.

Continue reading

Playa September 14, 2013

(This residency recollection was interrupted by a 50th wedding anniversary orgy of photographs, which I shall post on Flicker as soon as I get a bit caught up here. My apologies to my faithful fans who have been waiting for the next installment.)

Saturday, September 14:

Yesterday I climbed up the hill across the road. It’s actually a kind of “front range” to Winter Ridge ( a set of small hills in front of the basalt of the Ridge) where I found a good wide view. I might have to paint from it. But it was hot and by the time I got back, I was sweating, dehydrated, and tired. Ah well, what did I expect at 4000 feet above sea level for an aging out-of-shape body.  But it’s always good to have possibilities for further exploration. I told myself that Saturday (today) would be a lazy day,  to make up for the exertion and excitements of yesterday. (So much for promises).

Here’s one photo of Playa-from-the-Hill:

PlayafromHillWL

The big excitement of today, however, really was neat. A huge white bird came into the north pond (the one Cabin 10 looks out on). It looked like a swan, but with an enormous beak like a pelican. It was bigger than any pelican I’d ever seen.

PelicanStandingWL

And when it raised its wings to lord over some ducks, I saw stark black undersides to them.

PelicanTakingOffReflected

PelicanGroomingI sneaked outside to take photos, although it didn’t seem to take any notice of my presence. I saw it eat a couple of fish with its tremendous beak, sliding them into its beak and down its gullet which was long and elegant.

It came right up to the edge of the pond where I was photographing:

PelicanSwimmingClose2wl

When it flew off I saw the black underwings again. Stark black against stark white. And not thin like a heron.

PelicanFlyingWL

This guy was substantial. So when Rachel came back from her work with the neighbor I asked her about it. She got all excited, found it in a book, and said they had never been seen on these ponds before. It was an American White Pelican, which is very scarce because of pesticides and human invasions. It can have a 10 foot wing span. The flight was stunning.

I think I’m very lucky to be in Cabin 10.

Afterward everything else was a kind of anti-climax. I laid in the shapes for a couple of paintings. I want to try to paint the morning mist that seems to rise in the south playa (there might still be some water down there). I saw it today, but couldn’t bear to take my stuff out at that unhealthy early hour.

Other than that, I finished off a painting or two and worked a couple more to see what would happen. And laid in the shapes for the ones I’d like to get at soon. I’m not exactly an early riser — Rachel volunteered, with a guffaw, to come and get me up. I have been waking up early, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to roll. And I’m still a bit sore from my hike yesterday (my little walk, actually) so I don’t know if tomorrow is the day I’ll get up at an hour that some people (you know who you are) deem acceptable. I also have an idea about what I can do with the very long view up on the hill but I’ll have to explore that some more.

PlayafromHillMorningMistwl

Rachel gave me three kinds of mosquito repellant so I don’t need to go to Paisley to get any. And my beer is holding out well, as is the food:-) Maybe spaghetti for dinner tonight. Haven’t decided yet. I’m starting to wear down, so it might be tuna fish instead. I had guacamole for lunch, with tomato and lots of onions and lemon juice. It was wonderful. The avocado was just at its best stage — perfection. I’ve been drinking cold ginger tea and liking that a lot. I see that there’s plenty of herbal teas for the taking in the Commons so if I run out I’ll have plenty of substitutes. –June