Category Archives: clarity

The Artist Window: Part 1

Nature hides its secrets, the artist must be patient, waiting for the riddle to show itself. Usually it is quite subtle and the quiet spectacle of light is gone almost as soon as it’s noticed.

Light is what the photographer seeks to describe, to find it in a way that it might not have been noticed or seen before.

This is a series of treasures no one would notice, but I find them quite beautiful. Nature has always inspired me.

Light through windows

Subtle for a moment and just as quickly gone
the true colors of leaves
are defined
and we see the extraordinary in the mundane
beauty in the ordinary.

Rich autumn colors come inside
bringing warmth to a silver
afternoon
I cling to color
as the landscape turns gold
than gray
watching  the
last remnant of flame
fade

It’s sad to see its wings
useless
how many miles
had passed?
last winter it hung
trembling with
others of its kind
and it belonged
somewhere
in Mexico
waiting to make the trip
back
only to lay on the concrete
spent

The final shaft of light

autum
the final stained glass
window
a remnant of spring
fading

 

The Loneliness Project: Part 1

It is the absence of something, most of the time something we took for granted for a long time before we realize it’s gone. The swing settles in the family tree and only a random breeze will wake it from its slumber.

I remember the cool green grasses and clothes blowing across the long lines of rope making shapes and patterns like ghosts. I remember the simplicity of a great blue sky and a child’s mind full of opportunities.

There are so many times we fall off the swing, we skin our knees and assume that no one is coming with the clean washcloth or the gentle encouraging voice; we grow up. We become self-sufficient, we are taught to ignore the swing, the green grass and the great blue sky as if they were just childhood foolishness.

We barely realize they’re gone but the child inside us still yearns to stop, to seek comfort, to search with an explorers heart for wonders among the grass and secrets in the woods.

It is this loneliness, missing a child that always found time to play, to look up to the sky in search for something great. How I miss the swing and the tall willows throwing viridian shadows, I consciously aspire for my own resurrection.

The green lawn, the red and white shed before it was an eyesore, back when it had a purpose. We would have family dinners in the backyard, the kids would take orders and there was a barbecue fired up, it was summer.

I remember a large gathering of people, usually Easter, after church we’d sit outside. It was back before mosquitoes became the deadly creatures they are.

I remember plastic chairs and long white plastic table clothes, laughter and drama-it was a family gathering after all.

Now the family is scattered to multiple states. Many of the members I remember are dead, some still live near the same town but we are all separate.

I miss the bond of family, even if what I remember wouldn’t match reality. I”m sure there was more tension among them but I was young. I had the privilege to grow tired of having guests.

I would love to sit in my Aunt Ann’s kitchen listening to the old woman with stories and small talk. I would enjoy sitting in the living room with all the men watching sports and talking trash but time moves on and we don’t realize the connections or their significance in our lives.

The Precarious State of Loneliness

There are so many more like me…but we are all separate,

How uncomfortable it is, longing for contact

and yet unable to fathom its joy

To seek solitude while aching for connection

it’s the most difficult state as nothing seems to feel comfortable

time is slow and yet fast and random simultaneously

I have lived here

I have driven a long road, alone, missing others

and yet insistent on my own solitude

is it the soul’s nature of knowing its own state

but curious for another?

Fear keeps us

separate.

Awkward we are souls in transition.

I forced my way through loneliness

until I grew comfortable with myself

it was only then that I could fathom

interaction

and it’s joyful conclusion…

The colors of humanity

ebb and flow just like the seasons

but they are to be shared

not squandered

our voices are like the fleeting colors of autumn

how they linger among the tangled limbs

to grow as a wonderfully colorful

landscape

they become stories among grasses

ghosts in the shadows

until they settle on stones

and sleep like whispers…

we were never meant to be alone

we are all notes in a beautiful song

so when did we stop singing?

The Garden Becomes its Own

I love gardening, something I’ve been writing about for quite a while. It is the act of dissolving into the silence and intricacies of nature.

Every bud and seedling is a glimmer of hope. I enjoy tending the soil, being active and watching this natural work of sorts become its own.

The garden starts out with seeds and a general idea and from there it becomes what it will be. I used to be a lot less enthusiastic about the summer garden than the spring garden.

The spring would come with ideas and grand hopes for wildlife and a garden I could photograph but once the summer heat kicked in, the garden would go its own way.

All of the weeding and planting would turn into a garden of brown shrivelled up leaves. I think depression has a big thing to do with it as well, all intent and excitement dies with its crippling effects.

This year is different. I’m looking at raising milkweed to sell, yes a weed but the only hope for future monarch butterflies. I am collecting passionvine and dutchmans’ pipe as well and with the addition to the family of a dog named Ranger, suddenly I am outside even in the heat, still plucking weeds, still planting.


It’s amazing how a puppy can take you out of yourself. It’s not about you, it’s about him and the garden is better because of it. As he chews on sticks and rocks, I continue to weed, water and protect.

I’m not sure how long this will last, but I’m excited to see the garden become its own even after the second hottest May. I hope you enjoy a bit of a walk through my garden.

 

Wildlife Gardens in Texas: Part 2 Passionvine

Citrine, the yellow passion vine

The second plant I would highly recommend is the passion vine. There is so much  about this plant to love and it attracts Fritillary butterflies that will lay hordes of caterpillars to devour it.

Gulf Fritillary

I have become somewhat of a collector having raced 9 or tend different species over the years and continue to be amazed by its ease and beauty.

Hybrid Flower

The plant is named Passiflora after the passion of Christ, there are a lot of symbolism with the parts of the flower, the stigmata represent the three nails and the 5 anthers below them the wounds.  The sharp tips of the leaves, the lance, the tendrils the flagellation of Christ and the ten pedals and sepals the loyal apostles. Read more

Lady Margaret

They won’t overtake your yard or destroy a fence.
I have had the blue variety come back every spring with a heavier base, I would think if it grew well enough it could destroy a fence but I’ve never had any problems with them.

The smell of the flowers.
The blooms are not only dramatic and odd, they smell like sweet candy and each species has its own unique flavor. The thorny larvae of the gulf and variegated fritillaries will devour the stands of the plant but that’s why I grow plants for the wildlife.

They are Good for Bees. Attracting bees could be a good or bad aspect of raising a plant. I always welcome them and never have been stung while treating them with due respect.

Cerulean

The abundant flowers are many different colors and they will cover an area in the yard with beautiful blooms through the summer. I would highly recommend this plant because its easy and needs little care. The native purple, (incense and incarnate), blue (cerulean) and some hybrids will come back after a mild winter and will grow in most places with an abundance of light.

I will have a whole new collection this year and many more photos.
Next is the Dutchmans Pipe-be patient if you plant it, they will come.

The Prairie in Blue Ridge

I got lost in the long flowing stalks of bluestem grasses, the great blue sky looming above where hawks dance in slow spirals. I sat on the cold, moist ground and listened to what it might have been like when bison and Indians roamed the backland  prairie.

The clouds drifted with a calm indifference, the wind breathed and than exhaled followed by a ritual silence. Meadowlarks flew in patterns from fences and crows called out breaking the stillness, it is like going back in time.

I guess the fact that the winter chill that settled in my spine and slapped my exposed skin with pins and needles would be a good incentive not to go to the prairie. I assume that’s why both times I’ve gone there has been no one there but I consider it my oasis of silence.

I am comfortable sitting on the cold ground. My breath is still, my senses charged with the sounds as I try not to miss anything. I can hear cattle in the background and even a truck in the far distance but for the most part all is consumed with the rush of the wind through the grasses.

All that moves is the grasses, swaying back and forth as if haunted and the clouds marching passively across the plane, I am in awe of the silence and calm.

I have been dwarfed by mountains, the ocean but never by a huge open field. I have images of our history and it’s inhabitants that made a life out here and imagine the distant cows that cry out now were probably the sounds of wagon trains and troops of coyotes, maybe even the bison.

The coyotes are still here, I see their tracks and scat but the bison are long gone. There hawks of all kinds, the red tail, the kestrels and the prairie falcon, their mood is pensive with a mission. They rise and fall in the golden field as it should be.

I learned about this place from a trail guide at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center and I have been back twice. Yet another great place I learned about from the Blackland Prairie Raptor center, great people and wonderful birds with lots of knowledge, if you haven’t gotten a chance to go on the first Saturday of the month, I would highly suggest going.

Fear of the Canvas

florida_intercoastal

I’ve just realized why I have been avoiding painting recently, not really avoiding it but just having a harder time settling down. Many of the works have been in progress for quite a while so getting back to them is often like picking up a strangers painting.

The amazing point is when suddenly you stop thinking about what you need to do and just start slashing at the canvas with purpose. There are unseen shapes and connections of shapes that come out of the surface of the paint and you fill in the blanks instinctively.

A stumbling block is the fear, especially when you like what you’ve started but there is no room for timid strokes in painting or anything else creative. Once you stop and think or attempt the safe way you might as well save painting for later.

Painting should be bold, excited and even a bit reckless. My thought is every painting is a potential mistake that will never see the light of day. This is the time you learn the most, when you are free to forcefully and confidently paint without fear of failure.

One particular technique that takes a lot of time going back and forth is the light on water, it starts out overly dramatic and slowly becomes more realistic. There are points where the light seems right, others when there seems to be a bump in the horizon and you have confidently fix the problems and continue to focus while you see the image you’ve been working on go from good to worse to good again.

Another aspect is painting objects, straight lines and architecture, something that often needs to be reworked and perfected. You are happy with the background and suddenly you’ve just destroyed it with the object that you overlapped-often the background needs to be reworked with the object as you work to perfect both.

I am excited about the process and while I continue to get bits of time to paint, I am adding to an already large painting list. Let me know what you think of the new images.
swallowspsd

Painting: Deliberate until something develops

undertheseasm

There are so many different feelings when you paint, sometimes it’s pushing paint around, sometimes it’s deliberate, even mechanical and sometimes it’s instinctual, tonight’s  sitting was a little bit of all of them.

I started with an under painting and it was one of the more deliberate paintings I’ve started, unfortunately I didn’t have the full picture, just an idea of clouds moving forward over the viewers head. The actual image is from real life, I have photographs for reference but I’m not completely sure where the clouds end and what the landscape looks like.

I painted the background with perspective lines, every form, every color and every space will be designed with the idea of perspective and I want the viewer to feel overwhelmed by the clouds overhead.

As I tend to do, I switched gears after finishing a monochromatic under painting I turned to the painting of a scene from beneath Shark River Inlet in Belmar New Jersey. This painting was inspired thirty plus years ago and it still stood clear.

I painted with a clear feeling of purpose but as suddenly as it began it ends and I wasn’t sure if I was done with the painting or should start all over. The problem is the idea and image is strong but the recollection is so hard to bring back to mind. I will continue to study it until I know it’s either done or time to start over.

Another thing about painting, sometimes you feel like you’ve created your best work and sometimes the same painting looks like a mistake. I got back to the grackles above the city, an image that I started at the end of the last series, again I had that feeling of instinct kick in and for thirty minutes or so I painted like I figured out the problem.

None of the paintings are finished but I feel like I’m shaking off the stagnation and getting in the process. The most exciting thing about painting instinctual is that images appear that you didn’t necessarily know you were creating they just come out of the details you’ve worked in feverishly.

I’m excited about this series and feel it will be a huge step toward my future painting style and feel.

Stay tuned, more paintings coming very soon.

gracklessm

Back to the Artists Studio

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 10.49.45 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 10.49.31 PM

Last night I finally started painting again. The excitement and inspiration spilled over into the next day. It is a liberating feeling after being stifled for so long and suddenly it all makes sense.

I think the only negative is that suddenly there are more ideas, images and concepts than I can get done in the time available. This is when my lists get overwhelming.

I first started on the third in a series of swallow paintings. The work is smaller than the two previous but more detailed, with a larger population of swallows than the previous paintings.

The name of the work is the celebration, it is a scene from a local bridge in Rowlett after the spring rain. I saw a swarm of swallows that surrounded the bridge and flew under and around the structure. There was a feeling of excitement; nature in celebration, the drought was finally over.

The second painting I work on was a brand new painting called calvary The last time I went to church, I had an amazing image of calvary surrounded by stained glass. This is going to be one of my most colorful paintings and it is a bit of a departure from previous works.

I’m very excited about finally getting back to work and I can’t wait to see the new views as they become real.

Rejuvenating a Garden: life lessons among the weeds

Garden_flowers

So many things in gardening mimic life, it’s realizing them that offers us wisdom.

After ridiculous heat and a garden that got away from me, after all the beautiful blooms  I anticipated have failed, I forget why I started gardening in the first place.

 

In Texas heat and humidity you stand and look at a mess you started in the spring that is now out of your control and succumbing to summer heat. Welcome to one’s life, finding that joy is what this  post is all about. Here are my wisdoms from the weeds.

 

  1. Mulch often:Mulch is the gardens’ skin, it keeps moisture in and combats heat and weeds, it is armor for the growing garden.

We all need a thick skin, it will keep the bad out and keep the
good in, a parent needs to start mulching their children at a very
young age-a thick skin is important.

  1. Water when needed but not too often:You would think watering a garden is a no-brainer but the best way to kill a garden, especially in Texas thick clay soils is overwatering.

Don’t overwater your children or yourself for that matter, don’t
take yourself too seriously and don’t rush in to make sure your
kids have everything they need. A little bit of patience and
perseverance grows character and it’s a beautiful flower.

  1. There is more to a garden than just flowers: So many reasons to garden, don’t just aspire for one particular thing. Notice the wildlife, the interesting weeds, enjoy the fruits and vegetables and most of all, learn everything you can. This is kind of self explanatory for your life, learn, enjoy, explore, don’t just focus on one objective-be adventurous.
  1. Don’t use Chemicals: No, I’m not preaching, but you do kill much of what would actually help your garden and the garden can do a lot on its own if you don’t cripple it with chemicals. Ok, that sounded preachy.

This is twofold-don’t surround yourself with toxic people and
don’t try so hard to solve a problem you end up causing more
problems, think first, realize consequences before
you create more for yourself.

  1. Transplanting can often revive a dying plant: I have seen plants magically come back to life after simply being transplanted. Suddenly a dormant plant sends up new life and even flowers.

Transplant yourself, change is great for the soul. Often a change is
the best thing you can do to start living again, challenge yourself,
awaken your inner seed.

  1. Deadheading often brings about new growth and flowers: You rejuvenate a plant when you remove its spent blooms, it works to create flowers instead of reseeding.

Don’t hold on to old ways or  things, sometimes we need to throw
off our pasts, our old language and doubts before we can grow
again.

  1. The beauty of a garden happens over time: There is the initial bloom you buy from a store, the reason you were attracted in the first place to the specific plant. After the initial blooms fade there is so much more that happens, the roots go deeper, the flowers get more complex and it gets healthier and more vibrant with time.

    Be more interested in the long term than the transient. Don’t panic as things in your life change and be patient as you discover the big picture.

  1. Don’t chose the wrong plant: If you plant a cactus in a rainforest, the results are not going to be good. Can you do it? Yes, but it will take more time, more materials and more attention.

    Know who you are, be who you are. Don’t force yourself into someones’ perceived garden, realize how much more work and attention you will need for the same result.

  1. Have fun:If you look at the garden as a task, that is exactly what it will be. Have fun, enjoy yourself, get dirty and did I mention; Learn a lot.

    Sometimes we are so intense about living, about goals, about expectations we forget we are here to enjoy, to have fun. Today I dug in the garden and it felt amazing. Stop, and enjoy your life, winter will be here sooner than you think.

  1. Find old friends among the weeds: This is one of the primary reasons I started writing this post. While digging out the seeds and mulching the garden I found old friends. I rediscovered how much I enjoy digging in the soil. I stopped and enjoyed a moment gardening; it was like spring again.

I also found plants that had reseeded, last years flowers that reappeared, I love perennials. I would have never even realized them if I didn’t stop and dig in the soil and rejuvenate the garden. I remembered why I started gardening in the first place. Despite the heat, despite the sweat and toil and scars on barehands, I never use gloves.  I realize nature is the force that rejuvenates me and gardening makes me remember that.

So get out there, enjoy nature, start a garden or just stop and enjoy someone else’s, Learn, read, find out what you loved as a child and rejuvenate your own garden, the results will amaze you!

The Extraordinary Life

cloudssm

What does the extraordinary life look like and how much does it cost? An easy question with too many answers and each answer is very subjective.

This is the beginning of a series on living larger and experiencing more. I plan on highlighting individuals that typify a lifestyle that defies convention. The first thing I need to do is define what that life looks like, for myself if no one else.

The first word that comes to mind, for me, is freedom. Again, what is freedom and how do we go about truly feeling its reward. I think it’s appropriate that I would start something like this on the eve of Independence Day.

I want the freedom of going places, of seeing new things and experiencing foods and cultures. I want to write, paint and photograph about the experiences and bring them to my readers with a personal perspective that they can relate to.

My first objective to this quest is seeking clarity and focus, to not only define it but to take steps that would make it possible. We are in a world that is loud, always something pressing, always useless distractions hiding our purpose.

I am in the process of learning from others who have embarked on the same journey. Experiences that others can share will allow many of the mistakes and pitfalls to possibly be avoided and it will give me the knowledge to take the next step.

Next, I believe discipline is necessary, which is strange coming from a creative mind but creativity without some sort of discipline or organization is madness. I plan on learning to be more organized, more deliberate and perhaps the creativity will follow.

I recently read 101 ways to monetize your blog and ways to increase income. I will create a long term list of goals much like a business plan.

So now you have the plan, now what? I think one of the first things is to remove the fear and doubt. Again, listening to others, learning more about the journey will instill the confidence to ignore the programmed expectations we are taught from birth. Stay tuned for the next post on Doubt!