Our Big Backyard
If I could make it my job to play outside all day... I would. I'm trying. I suppose the best moments in my process are when I am discovering new vistas, soaking in the details, and wondering in awe over the geological clues of our very existence, present namely in rocks that I can observe with my naked eyes. I am no scientist, so I don't do air samples, core samples, water samples.... I'm no Ansel Adams with developing equipment in the back of a van, so I'm not gone weeks at a time making prints on the road. I just use my two eyes and dig into my curiosity using all the resources made available to me by scientists, researchers, and practicing photographers to do what I do and learn about my environment. It is a great, joyful method for me, and the real fun is in making a satisfying print that represents a place and becomes a definition of "place." That's my only job I give myself. I then share this with others in the form of products I design and traditional wall art, hoping that my images of the places you live in become the "spirit" of objects when you invest in my work.
Funny thing that I realized on a recent hike where we took the wrong entry and ended up at the beach... is how temporary most of our landscapes really are here on the northwest coast! I took a trip to circle the entire Olympic Peninsula in November and later learned that that region is relatively new land on a geological timescale! This made me think more deeply about rock formations, and I love to look at rocks and even collect them. Well, on the more recent beach hike, which was actually a failed Cape hike (silly me, I led the expedition), I noticed something in the heaping cliff-side that rose high above us on the beach. A sediment layer of blackened everything - blackened soft sediment with hard rocks falling out and blackened tree roots. I looked up at the forest on the hiking trails, meters and meters above me, and noticed a living tree barely hanging onto the precipice, which was perfect for observing root length - they didn't go very deep! What this made me think was that the roots of the tree that I was looking at at my eye level had been buried by new sediment and were very old roots! I guessed first that maybe there was a fire and an earthquake that made this chunk of forest slide down into the ocean and turn black... had to wait till I drove home to do some research.
Well, I found two articles written about an area just a few miles up, as well as another Cape farther south, and I was onto something! It turns out that Oregon's sometimes extreme tidal erosion, of course, was responsible for these roots even being visible, but what was even cooler to learn was that landslides did in fact occur here, exposing "paleosols" (ancient soil deposits) with well-preserved tree trunks in just the right conditions. Scientists believe that these landslides occurred during a previous Ice Age, and just up the coast, similar preserved trees were carbon dated to over 38,000 years old. OMG! What a find! I got to touch them. I saw similar dramatic beach erosion when I lived on the southern coast of South Carolina in my early twenties, and it seems I find myself still attracted to some of the same things.
Over the winter, the thought of doing Spirograph designs crept into me, and I went for it head on! It was fun to reconnect with a childhood "toy"... or really an engineer's "drafting aid" is what it was meant to be. These were originally designed in the 1880's by a British engineer, and they soon after were marketed as a toy! Boy would I love to see one of those, if I ever got to search some old attics in England! I drew spiro designs that stand alone on my newest handmade coasters and magnets, and I have just begun to incorporate them into my landscapes, too. I'm pushing out my first "test" designs of the mixed mediums on Facebook (here), and we will see where this goes! I'm curious to hear feedback on these designs... what do you think? Would anyone want them as record covers? Art prints? Pillows?
January through April will be months for lots of social networking time, if you'd like to discuss my artwork in person. I will be showing for four solid months in Astoria, OR at Good to Go in January, at Three Cups during February and March, and at Cannon Beach Art Gallery in April. THEN it's time for spring shooting, so exciting!
Good to Go is at 1132 Commercial Street, Astoria, OR (thru Jan 31)
Three Cups is at 279 West Marine Drive, Astoria, OR (Feb 2 thru March 26)
Cannon Beach Art Gallery is at 1064 S. Hemlock Street, Cannon Beach, OR (March 29 thru April 30)
I am also releasing my first wholesale newsletter-slash-catalog in late February, so if you are a retailer, gallery, hotelier, or business interested in adding my design products to your retail, go to the contact page and let me know with a quick email! I'm happy to do custom projects with my designs and photography.
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