The landscape calls to me

January 25, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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This I Sing For The Setting Sun, by Joan Desmond, 36" x 48", acrylic on canvas

©Joan Desmond, This I Sing For The Setting Sun. Acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 48″.

Recently I was reminded of a Miles Davis quote. “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” It pretty much sums up how I’ve learned to approach landscape painting (and drumming). To paint what’s not there opens up vast potential in the imagination and on the canvas.

My relationship to my outdoor environment, my landscape, is ongoing, direct. Early, most mornings, be-robed, I find myself outside, with fingers curled around a hot cup of something as Blinky Cat and I peruse the house perimeter. First, with groggy, slitted eyes, I scan across creek and up mountain for predator movement: coyote, bobcat, or a peaceful deer. Blinky immediately sniffs out some night intruder on plant and house corners. Next, there’s a horizon check. Do clouds over the northern mountains herald strong afternoon wind? At this hour pine needles soft shuffle in a light breeze. We saunter on. Green wildflower sprouts are evident, although the cheek-felt January chill keeps most scents locked in the soil. I notice how angled light sweeps over rock face, tree bark, and pine branch. Each becomes important for a second, divulging new information, something not considered before, a color revealed, perhaps, or softness, sharpness, a rhythm. These images shift with the rapidly rising sun. Finally, considering it all, and with a deep inhale of the day to come, we return to the house, curiosity sated.

Similarly, I may step outside in the early evening, again with the intent of appreciating the scene. Often I’ll bring my 22” frame drum, and close my day by singing into it, sending the resonance into the sky, the wind, and the colors.

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