An Artist's Quest

Wild Mustard March

The teeter-totter ride continued this week with nearly two inches of rain one day and 6o degree weather the next and persistent fog yesterday, glorious sunshine this morning and rain in the forecast for tomorrow.  I guess that’s the very definition of spring, a combustible, unpredictable radiant time.  Spring just might be my favorite season…but I’ll probably say the same about summer when it approaches and again when we are on the cusp of autumn.  It reminds me of being pregnant, at first I was just enjoying being pregnant, the joy of anticipation was wonderful, the excitement splendid, but as the due date came closer and I became more weighted down and uncomfortable I was ready for the change.  I think it must be nature’s way of helping you get past the fear of labor, you’re just so fed up being pregnant that you’re ready for anything.  The changing of the seasons is like that.  Especially for me the transitions from winter to spring, and summer to autumn.  Enough already with the sweaters and the layers, I say, enough with the cups of tea and blankets. Oh how fickle, it wasn’t that long ago that I couldn’t stand my sandals another day and broke out my boots just a little too early for either fashion’s fancy or weather’s wisdom.  But this week I put on my rain boots and windbreaker in search of the essence of spring.

Those of you who have followed my work over the year know that before I came to live at the Bishop’s Ranch, some 15 years ago, my art work was mostly figurative and social/emotional in nature (and perhaps a bit self involved, as young artist tend to be).  When I moved to the Ranch and had a baby my art floated, not floundered, but it wasn’t grounded in who and where I was.  A seasonal shift had happened in my life that I hadn’t observed in my art.  Miraculously I was gifted a trip by a wonderful man, John Weaver, who seemed to sense I needed a shove into the next season of my life.  He arranged for a trip to France to paint in the fields of the Midi Pyrenees, where the Fauvist had reigned, relaxing at an artist colony for a week!  I came back with a new appreciation of the simplicity of documenting the beauty around me that set me on a hundred plus painting series of scenes from the area.  The practice of landscape painting lead me to observations of time and place that had eluded me before.  It also gave a great sense of anticipation for the coming glories, waiting for the daffodils to bloom or the grasses to turn gold or the leaves to change red.  After five years of almost exclusive landscape painting I began to feel an itch for something new.  Much to the dismay of some of my fans here at The Bishop’s Ranch I stopped painting landscapes.  I missed the puzzle and problem solving of my previous work I wanted a challenge.

But this week the landscape called me back with its own challenge, to convey the whole of this place in this moment of time.  To show this first week of March, like no other and yet perennial and faithful. I wanted to share not just the surprising snow on the Mountain but the Wild Mustard in its faithful festival of color that has envelopes the spring vineyards every year. I wanted to document the carnival of Bluebirds and Sparrows and Towhees, flitting and flying, mating and mingling, congregating along every fence and branch, a flurry of activity and industry.  I tried in this weeks work to share both the whole and it pieces, I’m pleased with how the painting came out and pleased to merge these different urges of observation and art, the pregnant, fecund feeling of spring, that can not last, that always gives birth to summer, ready or not.


5 responses

  1. Calen

    Oh! I love this. It makes me so homesick in the most delicious way.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    • I know from my years in the city it can grind on the soul a bit. But the open rolling hills are just over the golden gate!

      March 7, 2011 at 10:50 am

  2. Pamela

    We take so much for granted. Changes are not to be feared, but imbraced.

    March 7, 2011 at 5:05 am

  3. Lisa, this is lovely. I’m glad you’re going back (or going forward?) to make landscapes a part of your current art.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:56 am

    • Thanks Diane, painting landscapes is always a grounding experience, and finding new ways to share a beautiful place is a noble and humbling challenge. Lisa

      March 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm

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