Where Have All The Songs Gone?

March 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Into The Wind by Joan Desmond, 30" x 24" acrylic on canvas

©Joan Desmond, Into The Wind. Acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 24″.

March pushes brazenly into the canyon. Wildflowers splash with vivid abandon on the hills this year, and the customary wind cuts deep, frantically knocking winter’s junk from pine trees. Accompanying such visual and physical, seasonal flurry, is an atypical silence on the trail. The usually rich warble, chirp, and cheep of the feathered ones have almost disappeared. It’s nesting time.

Gone are the pompous displays of song and plumage from February when the dating game was in full swing. Now, birds are paired up, busy, and strangely quiet. The male raven rarely takes his seat on the telephone pole. Nor is he at the window asking for peanuts. He waddles up the driveway noiselessly, one of his feathers amiss. I like to imagine him tired from feeding his incubating mate. A single blue jay comes foraging, rather than six or ten. No juncos, mourning dove, quail, sparrow or finch forage under bushes. No owls hoot in the dark. Occasionally, a colorful, unidentified stray flies by looking lost.

Soon this interlude will spin into April with new bird, sky antics. We’ll watch lumbering young raven take-offs, and near aerial collisions as parents caw directions; shrill alarmist blue jays in training are sure to chant endlessly, unable to distinguish a ground stick from a snake; and the sweet, versatile trill of the mockingbirds will charm again from tree and shrub. The rhythm sustained.

Doodle-Do

January 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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doodle detail by Joan Desmond 2013

©2013, Joan Desmond, doodle detail.

Webster’s defines doodle as: (to) dawdle; trifle; an aimless or casual scribble, design, or sketch; also: a minor work; Synonymous with fooling around, messing around, fiddling, puttering, etc. The definitions imply that simply making marks on paper, idly, is something unworthy of serious consideration. I once believed that also. My understanding is different now. Now, I see doodling as very similar to intuitive painting. Art is all about making marks.

As a method, doodling is a great brainstorming, block breaking, and creative thinking exercise. Much different than an observational drawing or a planned composition, drawing without a set goal can access the subconscious and key into universal symbols, such as the circle, spiral and triangle. Doodling can also be a starting point. A writer will scribble a word or bits of thought on a scrap of a paper, a napkin, or a receipt, ideas that may develop into an essay, a poem. Similarly, a doodle may be the seed of something else, lead to new directions, highlight concerns, or exist on its own. Here, my doodle detail reminds me again of a love of pattern, and oh Yeah! a reoccurring artistic preoccupation with all things bird, wings, and flight.

Doodle On!

Dirty Windows and Such

December 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas, Photography | Leave a comment
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This December we are missing the sharp, frosty intensity of a California mountain winter. There were gray moody skies last week, but promised heavy rain pathetically sputtered and spit. I’m still watering plants, filling birdbaths, and turning sprinklers on a small patch of lawn, hopping around jackrabbit droppings from three that still visit every morning.

Boots and sweaters are hiding in the closet from all of this bright sun. There is a particular quality to such winter light, cool air yet clear, putting a keen edge on objects, casting color a little deeper.

I’ve spent more time observing, recording in drawings, looking, looking; there was even an urge for clean windows when looking out from the living room. Then sinking stomach regrets with the first thump of a bird attempting a fly through, panicked whirring of wings, then another thud. Investigating outside I found two dying quail, a male and female, on the front deck and the resident Coopers hawk gazing down from the gray pine. Wait, this is a repeat scene. Has the hawk figured out? … He frequently strafes the driveway low, toward the house, rousting gathered birds. Now the dilemma, how to retrieve kill next to that reflecting glass door?

It waits, watches, the birds cool. I wait inside, conflicted, don’t interfere… but it would be such a waste … more wait, but eventually limp feathered bodies lie at the end of the driveway. The hawk held its position 20’ above as I walked out. Then more waiting behind the shiny window while watching that thin, twisting, angling neck up there. Two ravens fly in and are attentive. Come on hawk, poster child for excellent eyesight, the deck is empty now. Minutes, many minutes go by.

Finally deciding in a swift, determined, don’t turn your head or you’ll miss my Coopers’ move, it swoops, snatches, and zooms off heavily laden. “Wow, it’s almost as big as you are!”

In an unusual departure from my more abstract images, there’s now a raptor painting in progress in the studio; but then it’s an unusual month. Oh, and the windows are dirtying up again.

Coopers Hawk2012 by Joan Desmond

©2012, Joan Desmond, Coopers Hawk.

2009 Community Mural

April 21, 2009 at 8:51 am | Posted in Considering Ideas | 1 Comment
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bird-mural-2

More than fifty people participated, ages three to eighty seven, to create this feathered 5′ x 36 ” image at the South Fork School Arts Festival. A great mix of individual style. We’ve got color!  This mural and the one from last year remain at the school.

Bird mask

January 16, 2009 at 10:58 am | Posted in Art Studio | 1 Comment
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2-smaller-postcard-copy

Friday morning bird mask

Louder Than A Rooster

June 10, 2008 at 11:38 am | Posted in Art Studio, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Erebos Raven

He’s been rocking in the forceful wind, long claws dug into the top of the phone pole across the road for months. Black feathers rise and fall with gusts, and at times glint white in the sun. Daily, his scratchy Caw! Caw! demands Peanuts! Peanuts! Come scatter the morning peanuts! If ignored he moves onto a pine branch above the house for the thunderous effect. At night he beds in those trees.

A smaller female has joined him.  They’ll both chase and dive-bomb hawks venturing into this air space as if somehow a red-tail might steal the precious meal. Lately, their biggest competitor is a coyote who also likes goobers. Not as successful as expelling that raider, they boldly swoop and hop around him hopeful of leftovers.

In an opportune moment, the ravens stuff several peanuts in their beaks and fly off to dissect them. Only then is it quiet.

Of course there had to be a raven collage mask!

More On Green

May 1, 2008 at 11:38 am | Posted in Art Studio, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
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Phyllidos Owl

In the black space of night the deep rhythmic calls of owl bounce round. Unseen, only those hoots, and perhaps the swoosh of quick wings mark its presence. Even in the day it stays hidden, merging into the tree.

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