I painted a new landscape. That doesn’t seem like much of a proclamation but for me it sort of is. Let me give you a bit of background. As a young artist fresh out of art school most of my work was social, emotional, and spiritual commentary mostly figurative and mostly female figures. Then about 15 years ago a friend and benefactor, John Weaver, decided I should go to an artist retreat in the south of France to paint landscapes. I’m not sure why he felt so strongly about it but he just thought it would be good for me so he donated some money to The Bishop’s Ranch for staff education and made sure I was the first one to use it. When I got to France I hadn’t painted a landscape since I was a child water coloring in a Yosemite meadow along side my mother. To be perfectly honest I had a little art school snobbiness about beauty. I liked to wear the angsty artist label as much the next art student and create “meaningful, challenging” art which is code for not pretty and god forbid not cute! But by this time I had lived in the beauty of The Bishop’s Ranch for five years and to be perfectly honest my life was so lovely and charming that there wasn’t much reason to make angsty art. So I surrendered to the beauty of the landscape in France and put what I learned to use at home, churning out painting after painting, for a while painting a landscape a week! My catalog has over a hundred landscapes of the Ranch and surrounds. But suddenly I was bored I had over done it. The landscapes felt like an expectation, and I began to feel trapped. So I took a hiatus, diving into collage, encaustic, digital art, quilting and any other medium that wandered my way. But lately, the last 4 or 5 months, I’ve been thinking longingly of landscapes. Going for hikes taking photos thinking, that would be a good landscape, so when I found my phone full of such photos I thought the universe was trying to tell me something- PAINT A LANDSCAPE – and so I did. And you know what- I loved it. The process of translating a beautiful vista into a beautiful painting, reconnecting with my personal painting style and the comfort of my old friend Golden paints, a lovely number 2 round brush and number 4 flat – well it was like old friends meeting up after years apart and getting along like we’d never been apart. So you my faithful blog followers get the first look –November Fog and Frost. I hope you enjoy seeing it as much as I enjoyed painting it… more to come, but definitely not one a week, I’m going to pace myself this time!
I didn’t sleep very well last night so I almost talked myself out of my morning hike but I rallied after some oatmeal and a big mug of coffee to take a loop through the woods and out into a hilly clearing that provides vista’s to the east, west and south. The morning fog lay over the river and steam was rising from the dry grass hill as the suns rays warmed the frosted grey-brown grass. I sat on a near by bench facing the Northeast to watch and listen and breathe. The first sound I took note of was the distant road noise and marveled at the low hum. Then I watched the fog lifting its lacy fingers releasing the Russian river from its nights embrace, in the distance a murmur of starlings swooped across the valley and out of my line of sight. Then before I could see them I heard them behind and above, a rush of sound as blood and bone and feather worked to move wing and beating heart on and away out of sight again. The sun won the day- fog drifted, steam lifted and I rose by blood and bone and long limb to walk into my day. Strengthened by the reminder that I am part of the great net of life, one strand in the vast universe, one with the fog and the sun and starling.
It’s past mid November and yikes the holidays are almost here! I had a busy teaching filled October and had some idea that the days would go by a little slower in November but that doesn’t seem to be the case because here I am wondering where the days have gone. When I imagined my empty nester life – as my son went off to college – I thought that because there was one less character on the stage in this little play I call life that time would bend a bit, slow down, be less hectic….but it’s not. Umph! Time is ticking and the days are passing and one thing on my todo list that I haven’t gotten to is to tell you dear readers about the art calendar I have made for 2015. There is a strong dose of irony here I must say – I am selling time in the form of a calendar but can’t seem to keep track of where the days have gone. I know you’ll love these beautiful images of the Russian River Valley from my wonderful perch here at The Bishop’s Ranch as much as I do. The practice of creating a calendar is a good one, it makes me mark the month in color and light, leaf and bird, forces me to sit and observe what the essence of each month in this place. Here I’m giving you a sample of images November, above, and February, June and September below. Hope it helps you mark time.
Won’t you join me in holding dear the days? Here is a link to order a calendar for you and a friend – they make great holiday gifts too! http://lisathorpe.com/calendar.html
I started a personal challenge a little over a year ago, to represent this picturesque place I live, The Bishop’s Ranch retreat and conference center. The Ranch sits above Westside Road, south of Healdsburg, with an amazing view of the Russian River Valley. I have been soaking in this landscape for sixteen years, while living and working perched along the first roll of hills above the river flood plane. My desire was to embody each month in all it’s glory, capturing the quintessential colors and themes of each. I have been giving you regular blog readers a monthly update of my progress wending my way through the months and seasons. I wanted to represent the flow and sweep of one year in this striking place. Now I have had a calendar printed up so I can share the art with more people. Following is a link to my website with a way to purchase calendars on line. Part of the profits from the sales go to The Bishop’s Ranch as a way of showing my gratitude for the life I have been privileged to lead full of beauty, kinship, and community.
Follow the link, I want to share a bit of this beautiful bounty with you. CALENDAR
PS: If you are a local you can pick up a calendar at The Bishop’s Ranch in the office and save on shipping or if you live in Healdsburg proper I am happy to deliver myself.