The shadow canvas

Yesterdays Project - TersiiskaIt’s a hard reality like compact snow in a clear air.  White and static in my mind.  I had shut the door and a thought to make a work of art.  Something big man.  A big canvas.  I’d read books biographic with grainy photos and small prints in blunt terms about artists who all seem to start with a canvas.  Picasso and Leonardo, Leonardo for sure, used to paint on walls, big walls.  Somehow I never never got started because it always meant having a canvas or a wall free of bookshelves and drawers of things leaning up against.

I visited the Menil collection and of course what you find are beautifully arranged rooms with big big canvas on the walls or big painting on the wall itself.  Cy Twombly must have thought – is it possible to make a bigger painting.  Thankfully he must’ve had heaps of rooms and room available for that awesome collection. But in addition there was an exhibition of Arctic art, lots of small things made of ivory or bone, like Netsuke from Japan, but different and ancient.

Between white and color, and possibly black or even photo black, the color of shadows.  How much a shadow can be art depends on the texture of the paint or the relief of the sculpture in the paint.  What better paint to make great shadows than white.  White is a beautiful shadow color.

Naturally for white to create shadows you need light off to the right and darkness on the other side of the door.  This way even with the door closed, you know you can see a blinding shadow at any time the door is opened, such is the strength of the white.

So with a little imagination I converted my wall to a canvas.  Not quite a Rothko.  Not anything like a Twombly.  Perhaps not even Picasso. It was easy really.  Just a can of thick ivory arctic white.  I started painting and having done the first coat it was just so great.  Shadows of chaos crept into my mind and introduced the concept of the art. Chaos and the butterfly fluttering through my imagination and Voila !! Frightening the imagination and trapping that fluttering pattern into the shadows of the wall. The canvas of shadows the butterfly behind the door.

Photo: Tersiiska:Flickr, All rights reserved.  Used with Permission.

The Menil Collection:

Time passing a happy moment in the square

Chris Smith - Le Halles St Claire Grenoble

There’s the faint sound of the clock tick being drowned by the bubbling in the fountain. Apart from that minor motion it had been quiet that morning in the square.   Later the market had opened as normal and fast sales of fish cheese ham wine meats olives and all sorts of produce got revving up throughout the day.  That morning too, a local couple had gone to work in the midst of an argument. He to his office some miles from the square and she to her own boutique just a short walk away. She’d stormed out of the house and caught a bus into town instead of normally getting dropped off by her husband.  On the strength of that, he decided to get in his new convertible and get to the office car park early.

When the offices closed for the day, she walked down to the market having calmed a little and waited for her husband to pick her up.  Normal time being 6:30pm in winter as it was.  As she sat by the fountain and thought through the day she somehow regretted being so impetuous with the email she’d sent that afternoon.  ‘How dare he’ … ‘just go buy a sports car like that’ .. who was he trying to impress ?’. she thought.  It was cold on the fountain step outside the hall and when the normal time ticked past she felt she should probably give him another chance.

His nice fast black car slowed a little as it drove through the square about an hour later.  Looking out the window he saw her there waiting. ‘Stupid’ he thought and sped off at a great rate.

For some reason possibly the effect of the fountain and the clock she felt happy.  If he came back around the block, well then good.  If he didn’t well then good for that too and begone with the car.

Redwood Trees Jade Rocks – the Condor and the Chipmunk

You really don’t worry too much about the weather when you only have a weekend do you ?  You just get in the car and drive, dont take much food really, a bottle of water, a leather coat, a camera – phone and a couple of key numbers.

 I started out that Saturday in a hotel in downtown San Jose.  I didnt get a lot of sleep, a domestic in the hotel room two doors down. The fight was colorful, and violent, with the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the friends of the guy, and the bitch inside, with bits of smashed plates littering the corridor, and piled up against the door.. tomato sauce spots, like animals had been searching for food scraps, but not blood at least..

The coast road route one, is perched halfway up cliffs winding south down through redwoods, and along the steep face of mountains highly indignant of the push of the pacific ocean plate, and rising up over it all, with the waves crashing politely down below, accross bridges and gullies with numerous turnarounds to take photos, and listen to the sounds of it all, in the quiet.  You have the sounds of the waves below, periodic in their motion, coupled with the sounds of cars passing by, with the odd car door shutting, and foreign voices muttering, about the cold and the bleak grey fog which comes in from the ocean.  You travel down and see that many have been here before, with names carved in seats, and bridges built during the 30s, to allow the road to continue south through and past Big Sur, and down through the county into SLO county beyond.

Living in Big Sur, some of the great thinkers and writers, people who came to think.  Henry Miller came to Big Sur to settle down and write, along with poet friends, and others who needed the environment to help them sort things out.  At least that’s the impression on me, just spending a day there. The giantess of the redwood trees and the rocks and things, that pass by as you drive.  I stopped a limited number of times, I know, that it was somewhat less than 82 times, because that was the number of pictures or video snaps I captured along the way.

A sense of huge forces then, shaping the earth on the edge of the pacific, and solid rock with jade poking through in Big Sur, and giant rocks and stones tumbling down into the water below. Beware the rocks my son, which gyre and gimbal in the waves.  The green Jade rock of metaphysics, which allows worries to be absorbed, must surely have assisted having past so many tons of Big Sur and the central coast, just feet away from the car.  Jade stones and salt water, the cure for all worries in metaphysical stone theory, I have  it on good advice.

Those things we do with video cameras to make life interesting, we worry about Zoom and Pan, and now worry free, I set the camera on the tripod on the stones, for which only an earth tremor would move.  For now I would set my Flip camera up on it’s red Eddie Bauer tripod, and just turn it on.  Hoping to extend the moment of the picture, with infinitesmal movement in the sky and in the grasses that moved in the foreground with the breeze.  Suddenly among the Jade and color of the blue ocean and the grey sky floated a condor, that rare californian bird of prey, so majesticly soaring.  It crossed the corner frame of the still camera, just in an instant captured, and then past.  The scene returned to normal.  I ran for the camera, grabbed it, and then with tripod in hand started tracking the condor as it floated past on the cliff face below.  Then it circled back, looking for something, and flying very close to the turnaround at the top of the cliff and road level, and accross the frame, about 20 feet in front.  Its wingtip feathers perfectly in control of its effortless flight.  It was looking for something near my feet, its head watching while soaring, and heading toward me.  Flashing through my mind, the injunction – don’t get closer than 150 feet to a condor – and here it was coming from left front to right back.  In the end it was too fast and flew right past the camera and down the cliff and out of sight. 

Quiet resumed, a chipmunk darted out of the grasses into the turnaround.  He was looking for tourist food or scraps, and then was chased back by a rather large seagull.  The drama over, there were no plates broken, no life lost, no one ate anything, no tomato sauce, and life returned to the quiet steady roll of the waves far below and a car or two passing occasionally. The man, the chipmunk, the seagull, and the condor, none of them worried, among the jade and redwood of the cliffs on the coast road at Big Sur.