Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Spring Day in the Sun

Karen and I needed another driftwood fix along Sumner Strait.  It’s our kind of high, so one of this week’s cluster of sunny days lured us back.  This time I vowed (as the coach of Petersburg’s basketball team would urge his team) to stay focused.  The idea -- without getting distracted, return to a log that I hoped high tides would not have floated away and paint it in plein air.  No procrastinating, no lazing in a sunny nook frying my winter-bleached skin, no wandering about in search of the next beach “Picasso”, just honing in on my subject and painting it right where it sat.  I haven’t done that since a failed plen air painting last September. 

Meanwhile Karen, camera in hand, would set off on an “explore” while Niko searched for anything to eat - edible or not.   Once again, we had miles of beach all to ourselves with just an occasional whisper of a breeze while the sun poured down like honey on a peanut butter sandwich.  At times the only sound was that of silence. 

I zeroed in on a still-life of a log because of Karen.  During a beach outing some years back she photographed the textures and shapes --  the convergence and near misses of several roots on a beached tree.  She captured the very essence of driftwood.  I had walked right past her subject without ever noticing as I photographed distance vistas that day.  Not Karen.  I fell in love with her photo and savored it even more as I distilled its image on canvas.  Of all my paintings, it’s one of Karen’s favorites.  It’s home is still our home.  I wanted a rerun.

I saw potential in a little cranny in the root system of -- oh, I don’t even know if it was a spruce, hemlock or cottonwood-- but it was (and still is) a tree -- at least a dead tree.  What remained in that death was an image -- the flow of the roots as they intertwined like a mother’s arms caressing her sleepless child.  I plopped down in front of that “mother” as time slipped by unnoticed.

                           Driftwood Still Life    9 X 12 inches    Alkyd on Canvas

Meanwhile Karen found a few cheeky birds -- a song sparrow that might well have sought shelter in those roots last winter and a robin that had only recently migrated north to our island, perhaps from some exotic location such as Wrangell.  Both are common in Alaska, probably boring to avid birders.  But for Karen, if it chirps, grunts, roars or quacks, she wants to photograph and paint it.  Perhaps a future blog post will depict her memories of that spring day in the sun.

                                            A fine day over Sumner Strait

                         Karen's new-found friend, a newly arrived American Robin

                                             My favorite photographer


Susan Christensen said...

Driftwood madona - I love that thought! Great post. Don.

Don and Karen Cornelius Artwork said...

That's it, Sus. You just named the painting. Thanks.